Food Hub Center
2014 National Food Hub Conference - Save the date!
The National Good Food Network Food Hub Collaboration's National Food Hub Conference will be March 26-28 in Raleigh, NC.
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Notice of Availability of Food Hub Development Grants!
The objective of the Food Hub Development Grant program is to build food hub’s capacity to overcome current challenges and position them for long-term success. Because the food hub model is unfamiliar to most lenders and investors, and because the majority of hubs are in an early stage of development, many struggle with access to capital. Yet capital coupled with technical business assistance is often what is needed to remove barriers to growth. Capital can finance simple equipment needs (e.g., trucks, packing lines, walk-in coolers, pallet jacks) as well as system needs (e.g., product-tracking software, staff training, and basic business systems) that can improve hub operations and help refine and/or scale the operation and improving the financial viability. Coupled with capital, Wallace Center will offer intensive capacity building and technical assistance that will benefit not only hubs but also the farms they source from.
|Regional Food Hub Resource Guide||Findings of the 2013 National Food Hub Survey|
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What is a food hub?
A regional food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.
Red Tomato created this informative video on what a food hub does:
The NGFN Food Hub Collaboration supports the success of existing and developing hubs. Read a summary of our approach.
Research & Resources
- Look in the left sidebar for a list of some of the best papers and presentations on food hubs. Or click here for titles and descriptions.
- The Making Good Food Work conference website has a great set of resources here and here.
- The Sustainable Agriculture and Research Program (SAREP) at UC Davis has many resources on food hubs and values-based supply chains.
- Financing Healthy Food Options Resource Bank from the US Treasury CDFI Fund
The NGFN Food Hub Collaboration has selected nine Study Hubs from across the country to broadly inform the strategies and activities of food hubs nationwide. We will work closely with these food hubs and report extensively on their progress so that we may all learn from their models, challenges, and successes. As a group, the Study Hubs represent a balance of model and legal structure, age of enterprise, scale, markets served, and region of the country. Learn more about these innovators.
Some webinars we've hosted relevant to food hubs.
- Production Planning to Increase Market Efficiency: Reducing Financial Risk Through Food Hubs
- Food Systems Networks That Work - Accelerating Learning and Increasing Commerce
- Financing Food Hubs: Dozens of Ideas to Access Capital
- Clearing the Roadblocks: Market Based Strategies for Getting Good Food to All Communities
- Food Hubs: Viable Regional Distribution Solutions
- Leveraging Existing Infrastructure for Significant Food System Change: Food Hubs, Regional Distribution, Farm to School, and more
- The Business of Food Hubs: Planning Successful Regional Produce Aggregation Facilities
- Community Food Enterprise
- Innovations in Value Chain Infrastructure-Red Tomato
- Aggregation/Distribution: Appalachian Sustainable Development
Excellent Partner Webinars
- Food Hubs: What are They? Why do They Matter to the Northeast? from Farm Credit East
Food Hubs: Sustainable Agriculture's Missing Link
February 6, 2014
As part of a series that addresses pragmatic steps that can be taken to make regional food systems more sustainable, Grist's Nathanael Johnson discusses the valuable role of the "middleman" in the sustainable food movement. As Johnson puts it, "Middlemen...help farmers fill the missing middle of our food system. Right now we have big farms that move their food to market with industrial efficiency, and we have little farms that rely on dedicated eaters to drive out over the potholes, but we don’t have much in between." But food hubs are filling this role - in a way that is deceivingly normal compared to conventional distributors. Take Veritable Vegetable, for example: "to see what’s remarkable about Veritable you have to look closely: you have to notice that, for many farms, the produce isn’t coming by the truckload, or even the pallet, but just a few boxes at a time."
Tahoe Food Hub Raises More Than $28K in Crowdfund Campaign
February 5, 2014
Tahoe Food Hub (TFH) completed a two-and-a-half month crowdfunding campaign to buy a refrigerated delivery van. The effort raised more than $28K via a combination of online donations, business sponsorships and private donations. A crowdfunding campaign aggregates small donations from many people to achieve a financial goal for a specific project within a specific amount of time. “When people see the van drive around town, they will see their donation at work and know they helped play a critical part in bringing local farm food to our community,” said Susie Sutphin, director of the Tahoe Food Hub. “A refrigerated delivery van is the first thing you need when creating a regional distribution system. It ensures the food can travel safely to North Lake Tahoe’s restaurants, small grocers and schools.”
Local Foods Offer Tangible Economic Benefits in Some Regions
February 4, 2014
Despite their typically small size and sparse distribution, farms that sell their products locally may boost economic growth in their communities in some regions of the U.S., according to a team of economists from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "There has been a lot of hope, but little evidence, that local food systems can be an engine of economic growth in communities," said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. "Our findings show that, at least in certain regions of the country, community-focused agriculture has had a measurable effect on economic growth." Read more here.
Leopold Center Awards Grants
February 3, 2014
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has awarded grants to 24 innovative research and demonstration projects — each falling under one or more of the Leopold Center’s initiatives: Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy and Cross-Cutting — that will help Iowa farmers improve soil health, take advantage of opportunities related to local foods and fine-tune alternative practices that protect the environment while using fewer outside inputs. “This year’s grants represent a broad array of science-based projects that will continue to build the sustainability of Iowa’s agriculture and food systems,” said Leopold Center director Mark Rasmussen in a news release. The new grants bring the Leopold Center’s current investment in research on agricultural alternatives to nearly $1.16 million.
Q&A with Oregon Food Bank's Sharon Thornberry
January 29, 2014
Sharon Thornberry, community food systems manager for Oregon Food Bank, is one of the organizers of a FEAST Community Conversation scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 8 in Forest Grove, OR. Area residents can attend the meeting to discuss local food and agriculture needs. Thornberry answered a few questions about the event and local needs with The Oregonian. Learn more about the Oregon Food Bank and their local food program (along with other food banks serving at food hubs) at the NGFN Food Hub Conference, and check out our other confirmed speakers.
How Food Hubs are Helping New Farmers Break into Local Food
January 20, 2014
The growing local food market provides an opportunity for less experienced farmers to expand their business and polish their craft, and help is increasingly coming from food hubs, which can also serve as food processing and distribution centers. One such food hub is The Stewards of the Land in Illinois. Members of the food hub include about 40 small family farmers, each of whom pays a small fee to join. In exchange, they get cheaper liability insurance, and access to a much larger pool of clients and training. "The new generation of farmers is a little over half the group," says Marty, one of the farmer-members. "Many of them were under the age of 18 when they joined. We're very interested in growing great produce, but we're also very passionate about growing great farmers."
Morris Farm Tackles Hunger and Food Insecurity
January 16, 2014
In response to a substantial number of Lincoln County residents experiencing difficulty in finding healthy, affordable and accessible food, the Morris Farm Board of Trustees recently decided to focus on these food security issues in the Wiscasset, ME area by becoming a center to gather, produce, process, store and distribute local farm products by working with local farmers and home gardeners - a community-based food hub.
Solution Project Makes its Case
January 14, 2014
The Solution Project has joined with the National Resources Defense Council to expand its current focus on food production in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. Narrowsburg School Adaptive Reuse Project is proposing to convert the vacant Narrowsburg School building to a food hub for local farmers, including facilities for meat and dairy aging and packaging, as well as to a college-level satellite campus with SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake. “This is an opportunity", says Vice President Jennifer Grossman. "And it’s adaptively reusing a facility. These rural schools were always considered a central meeting area. It can be a place that food is aggregated as it can include processing and packaging, office administration, and training.”
Access to Healthy Food and Why it Continues to Matter
January 10, 2014
A new report (Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters: A Review of the Research) shows that healthy food access continues to be a critical factor for improving both the physical and economic health and well-being of communities. Healthy food retailers such as grocery stores, farmers markets, cooperatives, and mobile markets have been increasing in many limited access communities through several innovative approaches that help improve food access. And in Michigan, the MI Food Policy Council released its 2013 recommendations in September, which outline opportunities for increasing healthy food access and food industry jobs, Cultivate a Safe, Healthy, Accessible Food Supply and Build Michigan’s Economy.
Southern SAWG Annual Conference to be Held January 15-18
Farmers, researchers, community leaders, and sustainable agriculture advocates should attend this conference for information on organic and sustainable vegetable, livestock and specialty crop production, unique marketing strategies, urban farming, farm to school, business and finance management, community food systems work, useful federal farm programs and agriculture policy developments. The conference will include over 60 educational sessions, a series of networking sessions and a trade show, and takes place Jan. 15-18 at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center. Learn more and register here.
Good Food BC Gets Grant Funding
January 8, 2014
Members of Good Food Battle Creek in MI have received grants from Fair Food Network to continue their work related to food justice and improving local food systems. The organizations - Sprout Urban Farm, the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, Dudley STEM School, and Leila Arboretum Society - will use the money for work that includes young people of the community in hopes of creating educational and entrepreneurial training.
Food Hubs: Clarifying the Concept
December 31, 2013
Michigan State University Extension strives to assist communities by providing relevant information about food hub systems and provide technical assistance to people representing a number of food system related businesses, including a recent article that tries to clarify exactly what is and is not a food hub. "Food hubs are not defined so much by their business structure but by their function and producer outcomes." Visit MSU Center for Regional Food Systems for more information on how MSU is supporting healthy regional food systems.
Assistance for Food Hubs: Database of Consultants
The NGFN database contains contact information for many consultants across the country. Hubs, and those looking to assist them should use this as a resource for finding help.
Are you a consultant?
Then you should be listed in our database. It's simple. Enter yourself in our database now.
USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Regional Food Hub Subcommittee created an edited selection of USDA programs that have previously supported regional food hubs, with examples of funded projects.
MAP KEY: Large green markers indicate NGFN Food Hub Collaboration Study Hubs.
Sorted by state. Are we missing any? Please let us know!
The NGFN Food Hub Collaboration is a partnership between Wallace Center at Winrock International, USDA, National Good Food Network, and others including Wholesome Wave, Farm Credit Council, Michigan State University, National Farm to School Network and School Food FOCUS. The Collaboration is working to ensure the success of existing and emerging food hubs in the US by building capacity through connection, outreach, research, technical assistance and partnerships. By supporting this crucial player in the value chain we aim to accelerate the growth of regional food systems that make healthy and affordable food available to all communities while fostering viable markets of scale for regionally focused producers.