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Rojas Conducts Farm-to-Institution Survey

Posted by Zak Threadgill '15, Anoka on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014

Ricky Rojas ’16, Champlain Park, is helping Ryan Pesch, extension educator in community economics at the University of Minnesota, conduct a survey to evaluate the interest of food-serving institutions buying produce from local farms. The goal of the project is to create a market that would allow these institutions to purchase food straight from the farm rather than through third-party distributors.

Pesch and Rojas surveyed over 400 school and healthcare facilities in central and northeastern Minnesota. Rojas compiled the data, which will be used to analyze the potential economic impact for the local communities and to estimate the amount and types of produce farmers could provide to the institutions.

Rojas’s role in the project is to input data, create spreadsheets, and generate graphs assessing food consumption averages that will help predict the effect on the economy. As an economics major, he found that the process of collecting data provided him with valuable experience.

“Being able to work on projects that correlate with my major is a great part of working at the Center for Small Towns,” Rojas says.

The University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) is a community outreach program that serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, k-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize CST’s resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society. Its mission is to focus the University’s attention and marshal its resources toward assisting Minnesota’s small towns with locally identified issues by creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students.