Currently, UMass purchases 5% of our chicken from New England vendors each year. Other local Colleges, including Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Amherst, also purchase roughly 3-6% of their chicken locally. There is tremendous capacity for large institutions to source more local and sustainable chicken if the poultry industry can increase production to meet the demand.
On July 26, 2017 UMass Dining hosted a Poultry Gathering to facilitate a conversation with our community about how the local poultry industry can be supported, improved, and expanded. More than 45 people from sectors across the poultry industry attended, including local poultry producers, State and Federal agricultural agencies, Nonprofit organizations, and institutional food service operators from the Pioneer Valley. The gathering was created to identify priority actions for growing the region's poultry economy and increasing the production and consumption of humanely and sustainably raised local poultry.
At the beginning of the meeting, UMass Dining set forth an ambitious goal to double the amount of local chicken it purchases annually (principally from Massachusetts poultry farmers), to help other institutions do the same, and to increase of the state’s production of local, humane and sustainable chicken by doing so.
The meeting closed after several small group discussions where participants discussed what it would take to increase poultry production in Massachusetts including attracting new farmers and allied investments, as well as increasing the likelihood of success through processing, storage, and infrastructure improvements.
The next Poultry Gathering will be held on Thursday, November 2nd 2017 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. If you or someone you know would like to attend the upcoming gathering, please email Brittany Florio, Senior Sustainability Coordinator at BFlorio@umass.edu.
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