Join the nationwide movement to use public food purchasing as a way to invest in community values and wellbeing.
The Anchors in Action (AiA) alliance is a national partnership that was established in 2015 by the Center for Good Food Purchasing, Health Care Without Harm, and Real Food Generation. Together, the three organizations support values-based food procurement at over 65 public institutions in 25 major cities, 2,000 hospitals, 7,800 elementary and secondary schools, and 100 colleges and universities across the country. These “anchor institutions'' are pioneers in a nationwide movement to use public food purchasing as a way to invest in community values and wellbeing.
Whether you are a CEO, food service director, advocate, business owner, farmer, or worker, we invite you to join this growing movement. And we offer the AiA Framework for Values-Based Purchasing to help translate your values, your customers’ values, and your community’s values into practice.
Our aim for the AiA Framework was to develop a set of aligned food purchasing standards that moves institutions toward a common set of criteria, definitions, and strategies. Over two years, the Anchors in Action alliance members consulted with our extensive networks and examined each of our organizations’ respective standards, harmonizing them to work toward a vision of fair, local, sustainable, just, and humane food—grounded in three shared principles. That Framework was released in June of 2023.
When we came together as AiA partner organizations to begin aligning our food procurement standards, we recognized the need to ground our work in shared principles. We identified the three core principles in collaboration with strategic advisors, task forces, steering committee, and project management team. We view the core principles as essential to advancing values-based food procurement that is responsive to the needs of those most impacted by food purchasing decisions. In other words, the core principles keep our work grounded in a vision of transformation that is accountable to producers, workers, communities of color, and other frontline communities.
is a commitment to rectifying the structural barriers that prevent communities of color from accessing opportunities, markets, and other resources. It is an ongoing practice to recognize that the practices and rules of our existing food system uphold white supremacy and must be repaired through the redistribution of land and wealth.
is “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies” (Declaration of Nyéléni, February 2007)
is an acknowledgement that climate disruption has a disproportionate impact on already vulnerable or historically marginalized communities. It is a commitment to adaptation and mitigation led by frontline communities. And it seeks a just transition to a regenerative economy.
The AiA Framework is organized around five Value Categories and their associated set of strategies. Each Value comes with a set of Core Strategies that assist institutions in making progress towards values-based food procurement. The Framework also provides Additional Strategies under each Value Category to support a more robust investment in that value. The Anchors in Action Alliance upholds each of these values in equal measure, with the understanding that food system transformation must be viewed holistically.
Local & Community-Based Economies
Vibrant and resilient regional economies allow communities to regain power in decision-making within their local food system and the land that supports it. When buying power focuses within a regional economy—across production, processing, manufacturing, and distribution—it creates shorter, more resilient supply chains and the potential for a circular (mutually reinforcing) economy.
Farm and food chain workers have the right to freedom of association and to bargain collectively, as well as the right to livable wages and healthy and safe working conditions. Food businesses that uphold workers’ rights; cooperative ownership; democratic decision-making; and migrant, racial, economic, and gender justice, help to ensure that food workers can live and work with dignity.
Community Health & Nutrition
Community-control over shaping their food environments is fundamental to ensuring that people have access to culturally relevant, nourishing food. This improves health and wellbeing, ensures food sovereignty, and builds resilience to withstand and recover from economic and environmental disruptions.
Environmentally sustainable farms and food businesses build healthy ecosystems by improving soil health, increasing biodiversity, and reducing the carbon and water footprint of food production. Environmentally sustainable fishing operations protect habitat, ensure wild sustainable fish stocks, and support traditional and local fishing economies. The promotion of climate-friendly diets and sustainably produced foods can reduce the environmental impact of our food.
Animal welfare encompasses all aspects of animals’ wellbeing and high animal welfare is achieved when animals’ physical, mental, and behavioral needs are met throughout their lives. This can be understood through the “five freedoms” where animals are free from: hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury, and disease; and fear and distress; as well as free to express normal behavior.