OLATHE, Kan. — Sysco Kansas City is letting area suppliers know that local is in.
The broadline foodservice distributor’s division, in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, invited local growers to meet face-to-face with company officials Oct. 27 at its first “It Takes Two, the Farmer and You Local Food Fair."
More than 60 individuals representing 30 organizations attended, including the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., and restaurant chains including Sheridan’s Frozen Custard, along with health care facilities and other institutional foodservice.
Although it wasn’t peak time for produce grown in the Midwest, Sysco had St. Joseph, Mo.-sourced apples, Rich Hill, Mo.-sourced acorn and butternut squash and fresh greenhouse tomatoes from O’Neill, Neb. Representatives from Sysco’s local vendors to talk about their programs.
“It’s a way to get them all in one room and to facilitate discussion,” said Dan Roberts, merchandising manager for produce at Sysco KC.
The company passed out what it called commit forms to buyers upon arrival so that they could compile a list of products they were interested in.
“Sysco has a great program for local produce, and we’re a solid participator,” said Nona Golledge, director of dining services for the University of Kansas, Lawrence. “I think it’s great to see what’s out there and if it will work in our operations.”
Sysco KC uses a weekly e-mail blast to buyers to keep them up to date on what is in season from local producers. Cipolla said sometimes he’ll send out daily e-mails for produce because the window of availability is so short.