Monadnock Menus is pleased to announce its first Local Food Champion, The Monadnock Food Co-op!
Monadnock Menus is an innovative local food delivery service launched by the Cheshire County Conservation District in 2013, that projects $100,000 in sales of locally produced food in 2015. Its purpose is to provide schools and other institutions throughout Cheshire County with easy access to foods grown and produced in the Monadnock region. Monadnock Menus’ primary goals are market development for local food producers and increased access and affordability of local food for the area’s food buyers. The Co-op shares these goals.
Monadnock Menus’ online ordering site allows the Co-op and other buyers to easily source food from multiple local producers. Virgil, the Prepared Foods Manager says, “Monadnock Menus just works well for a department like ours, that functions much like a restaurant. We just don’t have time to go calling every local farmer for huge quantities of one product like a typical produce department. On Monday we need to see the list of everything that is available on the screen with pricing, what farm it comes from, and if it is organic. We compare this to our possible menu for the week, then order exactly the amounts we will need, knowing it will arrive all together in a single delivery on Wednesday.”
Monadnock Menus and the Monadnock Food Co-op celebrate shared roots. They both arose from our community’s outspoken desire for easy access to fresh, local food, as well as our farmers’ need for access to these markets. Many of the same passionate community members contributed to both projects at their outset, so it is fitting that they have become so mutually beneficial.
Over the past year, the Co-op has purchased from nine local food producers through this service, representing over one third of all Monadnock Menus’ sales. Echo Farm Puddings, from Hinsdale, is among the hottest brands available at the Co-op. By purchasing these and other local products, Co-op shoppers are supporting Monadnock Menus’ efforts to scale up and deliver fresh, local, affordable food to all the schools in the Monadnock Region. This “anchor-tenant” relationship has allowed Monadnock Menus to grow to reach twenty-four other buyers, who purchase products from twenty-eight local food producers.
Monadnock Menus’ emerging business model depends on increasing consistent sales throughout the year, and as fresh produce dwindles, winter sales are critical. The Co-op is a key partner during this lull by purchasing dairy and frozen organic produce for its soups, quesadillas and other popular items in the Prepared Foods Department. This month beets are used in the Apple, Beet, and Mint Salad, Chard is served sautéed on the hot bar, and you will always find Green Mountain Creamery greek-style yogurt in the fresh parfaits.