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Food Systems Institute

Formally established in Spring 2022 with support from the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Liberal Arts, the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University aims to elevate and extend the unique strengths of CSU in this area through providing experimental professional education and development, engaged and responsive research, and interdisciplinary bridge-building. 

Food systems are the connections between natural resources, the agricultural and food industries, and the buyers, consumers and communities to which they contribute.

By aligning and enhancing these activities, the Institute looks to train the next generation while positioning the University to work with communities as they respond to opportunities, while engaging intentionally with tensions, between and across food systems. 

The Institute focuses on issues within food systems wherein CSU has a comparative advantage: rural-urban linkages, farm viability and agroecology, community livelihoods, and food access. 

Select FSI Achievements Since Its Formation

Extension and Engagement

  • Provided leadership for the Rural Engagement Initiative “Thriving Economies” food and agriculture content area, including the hiring of seven new food and agriculture specialists, three statewide (livestock economist, specialty crop, and food systems) and four regional extension specialists (located in the Western, Eastern, Southern, and Mountain regions) 
  • Integrated more than 35 statewide partners in a $3.5 million, 5 year grant to the USDA NIFA to establish the Center for Farm and Ranch Technical Assistance and Outreach at CSU 
  • Created the National Meat Summits Steering Committee in partnership with other land grant universities and nonprofit partners to build connections, increase knowledge, grow collective skills and advance market opportunities for local and regional meat supply chains in the U.S. 
  • Coordinated the Governor’s Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council   


  • Recent team publications featuring important findings for wheat growers in Eastern Plains, potato growers in the San Luis Valley, and cow-calf operations in Northwestern Colorado 
  • Partnering with Centura Health; Pueblo and Durango, and Nourish Colorado statewide on three separate grants to evaluate their USDA NIFA funded nutrition incentive programs  
  • Partnered on two grant proposals with The Land Institute as co-leader of the global perennial grain crop movement, totaling more than $63 million that explore new markets for novel perennial food crops and into energy markets—and their potential impacts on rural livelihoods 


  • Conducted student needs assessment to understand opportunities for enhanced inter-disciplinary student engagement in food systems 
  • Submitted USDA NIFA grant with CSU’s Regional Economic Development Institute for $750,000 to extend the Extension Internship Program to incorporate the CSU system and increase participation of underrepresented students 

On The Horizon

The statewide Colorado Food Summit on December 8, 2022 will inspire diverse food systems stakeholders to build shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our food system, and to build consensus as to actionable policies, programs, and initiatives that can support all Coloradoans.

Over 400 participants from across Colorado are expected to attend, including a co-located Youth Summit. 

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