Abstract for: Understanding the Role of Values-Based Institutional Food Procurement in Overcoming Barriers Experienced by Black Farmers

Black farmers have experienced widespread oppression and discrimination since Emancipation, resulting in disproportionately fewer Black farmers than white. An array of barriers, including a lack of access to land, capital, and markets, continue to perpetuate these disparities. Yet, overcoming these barriers is critical to bolstering regional food systems. This research investigates institutional procurement as one potential pathway for doing so by examining the potential impacts of integrating Black farmers into the food supply chains of public institutions through values-based institutional procurement programs such as Farm-to-School and the Good Food Purchasing Program. Yet institutions face numerous constraints when purchasing food, including tight budgets, a need for large quantities, and national, state, and local procurement laws. Building off of data from qualitative interviews with Black farmers, food justice activists, and institutional partners across New York, this research compares the barriers experienced by Black farmers with the constraints and opportunities presented by these values-based institutional procurement programs. In doing so, it questions if and how integration into institutional food supply chains might support Black farmers in New York in overcoming these barriers.