Buying local supports Lincoln

 Story and photographs by Kassi Nelson, NewsNetNebraska

When UNL student Kate Kollars visits Bread & Cup, a favorite Haymarket restaurant of hers, she loves ordering the creamy Parmesan and chicken pesto house salad.

“You can’t have a quality meal without starting with high quality ingredients,” Kollars said.

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Joseph Johnson picks tomatoes at a community crop garden, Prairie Pines Farm.

The vegetables in Kollar’s salad come from Lincoln’s community crop gardens or locally owned ShadowBrook Farm. The chicken comes from Plum Creek Farms in Burchard, Neb., and the cheese from Branched Oak Farm in Raymond. Kollars said these local ingredients keep her coming back to Bread & Cup.

“It’s nice to know where your food comes from,” Kollars said.

Bread & Cup co-owner Karen Shinn agrees with Kollars. She said their restaurant likes the idea of having a relationship with the farmers who grow their food.   “We know their practices, we’ve visited their farms,” Shinn said.

Shinn said one downside of buying local produce is that it may not always be in seasonBut Kyle Fischer, Public Policy Director for the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, thinks there are more positives than negatives in doing business locally. Fischer estimates that if all companies shifted just five percent of their purchases to Lincoln companies they could keep $175 million from leaving the local economy every year.  That’s roughly $500,000 that could be returned to the Lincoln economy each day.

“Buy Lincoln First” Campaign

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The tomatoes are then prepared by workers at Bread & Cup.

 Fischer said that’s why the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce started the “Buy Lincoln First” campaign in 2009. They asked companies to voluntarily take a pledge to do just that. The Chamber’s  business directory gives members a list of companies in Lincoln that sell locally produced products.

Although the pledge and reporting requirements are not mandatory, Fischer believes the “Buy Lincoln First” program is a benefit to the local economy. “We think we’re having an affect with this program and with other programs we’re doing to try to encourage local businesses to grow and to make purchases here in town,” Fischer said.

Local Impact

 Fischer said the “Buy Lincoln First” program helps increase sales in Lincoln which mean more sales taxes for local coffers. Fischer said that also means the government relies less on local businesses for other types of taxes. “So by growing our economy we grow jobs, wages, and we keep taxes low,” Fischer said.

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The final product? The Full Breakfast.

Bringing new businesses to Lincoln and keeping unemployment down, hopes Fischer, is another benefit of the “Buy Lincoln First” program. Even if there isn’t a company in town for a businesses to buy from Fischer said buying product from elsewhere in Nebraska helps the economy, but on a smaller scale. “It’s not going to have the same affect on Lincoln, but it will have an affect on Nebraska in general,” he said.

Kollars hopes in the future local food and ingredients will become more available. Even though she doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, Kollars feels privileged to have the extra dollar to give back to the community. As long as the product tastes good, she said she will continue to buy locally produced products because she would rather live in a world where people support each other.

“I’m full, the food was great, and I’m not the only one benefitting from it,” Kollars said.

 

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