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New local food purchasing policy to help small business owners

The new procurement requirement applies to municipal departments based out of the City’s Bolling Municipal Building, the headquarters for Boston Public Schools.

Mayor Kim Janey, in partnership with the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet, Economic Development Cabinet, and Boston Public Schools (BPS), announced a new food vendor purchasing policy meant to boost business for local entrepreneurs. Starting on January 1, 2022, municipal departments and divisions based out of the City of Boston’s Bruce M. Bolling Municipal Building will be required to procure food for events, lunches, and office functions from businesses located within a half-mile radius of the Roxbury building or within the neighborhood boundary of the site of the event.

“This vendor policy marks an important opportunity to keep City dollars in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Janey. “This will improve equitable economic growth for our small businesses, while also better connecting our City employees to the communities they serve.” 

This policy memo is targeted to help the City of Boston leverage its purchasing power to the benefit of the communities in which it operates. The policy will assist in providing local food businesses with the opportunity to obtain pay-per-purchase orders and smaller contracts for food procurement for city events and lunches. 

The Bolling Municipal Building, named for Boston's first African American President of the Boston City Council, is the headquarters for the offices of Boston Public Schools. The City will assist in this implementation by providing City departments with a preferred list of local vendors by address and neighborhood.

"In order to grow a community, you must grow the businesses in that area,” said Cheryl Straughter, owner and chef of Soleil in Roxbury’s Nubian Square. “This policy is a great segue for that to happen. No community can survive without thriving businesses. One goes hand in hand with the other.”

“Supporting small businesses, including local food entrepreneurs, is an important part of Boston’s economic recovery and growth,” said Midori Morikawa, Chief of Economic Development. “This purchasing program advances our efforts to expand access to economic opportunity in city neighborhoods.”

This pilot presents an opportunity to direct more than $150,000 a year to local businesses, for BPS catering opportunities alone, based on budget estimates. This local food purchasing policy will be studied for expansion to other City of Boston departments.

“Boston Public Schools is proud to support local businesses that represent the heart and soul of our neighborhoods,” said BPS Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius. “As our staff works every day to nurture the future leaders of Boston, we can also support the local economies in the communities where they live.”

This procurement policy builds on the City’s work to include diverse, small businesses in the City’s economic growth. In October, Mayor Janey announced LGBTQ+-owned businesses are being included in the City’s Supplier Diversity program

This initiative also supports some of the objectives of the Good Food Purchasing Standards passed in 2019 which requires the City of Boston to source food procurement contracts with locally-owned small to midsize food processing operations.

“Catering and smaller procurements provide a low barrier to entry for City contracting to businesses that are the backbone of our neighborhoods and commercial districts,” said Celina Barrios-Millner, Chief of Equity and Inclusion. “Through this new policy, the City of Boston will continue to build working relationships with local and diverse businesses and ensure that we are supporting our vital local economies.” 

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