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Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center

The aims and progress of the HUFED program, with presentations from ALBA and DC Central Kitchen, two Year 1 grantees.


The Wallace Center, national coordinating organization for the National Good Food Network, is the recipient of the USDA/NIFA Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center grant.

This webinar presents the aims and progress of this groundbreaking program. Two sub-grant recipients (ALBA and DC Central Kitchen) introduce you to their programs, and in particular how they plan to use their recently-granted funds. Finally we give you the first look at the Wallace Center's plans for accepting submissions for the second round of grants, including our refined program focus.


John Fisk and Michelle Muldoon, Wallace Center at Winrock International
Brett Melone, Agricultural and Land Based Training Association (ALBA)
Mike Curtin and Brian MacNair , DC Central Kitchen

Recorded Webinar



Download all of the slides (PDF - 4.5MB)

Questions and Answers

Questions about the HUFED program

Q: As it relates to the work of your organization, what is the clearest, simplest definition of ‘bottleneck?’
Wallace Center: Good question: an aggregation facility or packing shed is probably the easiest to illustrate.  Many small farmers can produce but need a packing facility to grade, aggregate and do quality control.  So from this example I think a definition would be:  A physical, financial, or capacity barrier that limits the flow of good food from production to consumption.

Q: Programs that are fully USDA funded working with limited-income communities on the issue of healthy eating are eligible to apply?
Wallace Center: HUFED funds also originate from federal funds, so existing USDA projects cannot be funded ‘twice’ for the same scopes of work. If there is an additional enterprise or project component that requires funding, existing USDA programs are more than welcome to apply for HUFED funds.

Q: While the HUFED approach is market-based, each of these examples is non-profit initiated - one utilizes significant volunteer labor and the other relies on donated and below-market rate land.  Are we redefining what ‘market-based’ means for social enterprises?   
ALBA: Great question. To some degree, I think yes we are redefining the meaning of ‘market-based’. At ALBA, land lease rates for incubator farmers do reach market rates after incubation period of 6 years, however.
Wallace Center: Yes we are exploring what might be called hybrid approaches that use the force of the market but also the good will in our society to make it work. This is in contrast to many purely subsidized programs.

Q: How essential is the urban-rural connection in these HUFED grants? We are very interested in the urban-urban connection.
Wallace Center: In addition to John Fisk's comments [Please listen to these toward the end of the presentation – ed.] ...some of our best applicants are predominantly one or the other (rural or urban), and that's ok, but we're looking for the systems approach and market based approach that can reach more people and have greater economic sustainability... what model has the most impact on the most people?

Q: Would schools be able to apply for these grants?
Wallace Center: Yes, but still need to meet the goals of program

Q: When will grants be available again?
Wallace Center: We will announce the RFP in mid-to-end of September 2010. Look on for more details as they emerge.

Q: Does the Wallace Center support only large enterprises such as ALBA?
Wallace Center: The HUFED Center supports large and small enterprise as well as feasibility studies and is striving for a mix of the 3... for a total of about 30 grants over the next 3 years (we have 13 awarded so far)

Q: Are you hoping to fund 30 projects total over your 3 year grant period, or 30 for the coming grant cycle?
Wallace Center: Thirty projects overall across three years.

Questions to ALBA

Q: While the HUFED approach is market-based, each of these examples is non-profit initiated - one utilizes significant volunteer labor and the other relies on donated and below-market rate land.  Are we redefining what ‘market-based’ means for social enterprises?   
ALBA: Great question. To some degree, I think yes we are redefining the meaning of ‘market-based’. At ALBA, land lease rates for incubator farmers do reach market rates after incubation period of 6 years, however.

Q: How is ALBA specifically using grant funds to reach their goals?  Was it just to explore the possibilities in reaching more retail outlets available to low-income communities?  Which specific goal is HUFED money being used for within ALBA's AO mission?
ALBA: We will be working with NSF Davis Fresh to help growers and AO obtain food safety certification. We will be working with schools and small retailers to help them develop a sustainable business model that allows them to regularly source local and regional produce. We will be engaging store owners, store customers, parents and children to build demand for local and regional produce. The HUFED goal we are addressing is to increase access to healthy and affordable fresh produce in low-income, underserved communities by expanding capacity of socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers to distribute products in local markets.

Questions to DC Central Kitchen

Q: Brian mentioned that teachers reported improved grades after implementation - was the school district/building doing any other type of coordinated school health activity to compliment implementation?
DCCK: This particular school, although focused on a low-income population, is a private school.  As such, it has been able to maintain a robust PE and sports program. That program,, however, has not increased with the introduction of the new food program.  So the teachers do believe there is a direct link between improved behavior, etc. with the new food program.

Q: Are there other locations other than DC where you have these kitchens?  Are you considering establishing them in other urban areas?
DCCK: We have 26 locations similar to DCCK in campuses throughout the country -

Q: 70% local food served in DC shelters year-round or just seasonally?
DCCK: Certainly more during the ‘season,’ but we do fresh freeze several thousand pounds of food in season -- we're at about 15K right now -- including tomatoes, apple and pear sauce, to use during the winter months. We are also starting to use season extension techniques such as greenhouses.

Q: What is the ratio of purchasing seconds from disadvantaged underfunded farmers of color? Were any surveys done?
DCCK: To be honest we have not focused on this particular issue.  It is an excellent question and one that we will definitely make sure we track.

Q: Does DC Central Kitchen have any projects piloting in the Montgomery County area and/or the Baltimore city area?
DCCK: Not yet, but we're always open to talking.  Feel free to reach out at or 202-266-2018

Q: Does Mike consider using volunteers as a sustainable business model?
DCCK: Great question...the answer is no.  We only use volunteers to help us process food that we use for the shelter and partner agency program.  Anything that we sell is produced entirely by our paid staff, most of whom are graduates of our training program.  That is what makes it sustainable.

Q: Has DC kitchen had success helping to get some of their produce into local PUBLIC schools.  Is there any model/how to guide to do this?
DCCK: We are starting a pilot program with DCPS next Monday. Stay tuned and visit our website:

Q: How did DCCK use the grant funds, also where do they get their produce in the winter months?
A: [This was answered verbally towards the end of the presentation. Briefly: primarily buying trucks and other infrastructure/equipment. Please watch the presentation for more detail. – ed.]

Q: How does DCCK get the food from farms to their kitchen? Is it delivered? How much time is spent procuring the produce each week?
DCCK: We are in the fortunate position of having a large fleet of refrigerated vans and trucks to do what we already do.  We've simply realigned our transportation team to make sure that we can focus a few vehicles on the farm program.  Of course we will need to add more trucks and drivers, but that's a victory as well.

Presenter Bios


Michelle Frain Muldoon -

Michelle Frain Muldoon is a Program Officer at the Wallace Center at Winrock International. She has experience designing, improving and running social change and community development projects focused on agriculture, food marketing and business development in both the United States and Africa.  Early in her career, Michelle joined the United States Peace Corps as a volunteer in the first group deployed for the Small Business Development Program in Togo, West Africa. There she created a self-sustaining business skills training center for farmers that was nationally the first of its kind, and still functions today - nearly 15 years later.  Michelle has focused on providing marketing and business skills across a wide range of sectors during her career, including stints at a Fortune 500 corporation, a university, and several years working at the Rodale Institute’s experimental research farm on issues related to farm and food marketing of organic and sustainably grown products.  Currently she is focused on providing project management and technical assistance related to food marketing, sustainable and regional food systems, and market-based, entrepreneurial, business models to address food access and food security issues.

Michelle grew up in a multicultural household, speaks Chinese (Mandarin) and French fluently, and has lived in Europe, Asia and Africa. She has degrees in Marketing, International Trade, and International Management from the United States and France.

Brett Melone -

Brett Melone is Executive Director of ALBA, Agriculture & Land Based Training Association, based in Salinas, California.  ALBA promotes economic viability, social equity, and ecological land management among limited resource and aspiring farmers on California’s Central Coast. ALBA Organics is ALBA’s licensed produce distributor that works on behalf of ALBA program participants and other family farmers in the region to market their organic products and ensure their story is conveyed with their products. ALBA Organics sold $1.25 million in fresh produce in 2009, serving approximately 30 farmers and diverse sales channels, including institutional food service, retail, wholesale and CSA-hybrid models.

Brett grew up in agriculture in South Florida, where his father oversaw production of thousands of acres of avocados, limes and mangos.  His bias for sustainable, family-scale agriculture developed when he experienced first hand the health risks associated with industrial agriculture, and saw the effects of this system on farm workers and their families.  Brett received his BA in international relations and Spanish at the University of San Diego, and then obtained a Masters Degree in International Environmental Policy and Spanish at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.  Before coming to ALBA in May 2002, Brett spent 3 years working in Chile, on an organic family farm, and on a number of sustainable agriculture and microenterprise development projects.

Mike Curtin -

Mike comes to DCCK after a 20 year career in the hospitality business, most of which has been spent in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. With a focus on organizational design and training, he has focused on redefining DCCK departments and creating new positions that have allowed DCCK to run more efficiently. After graduating from Williams College with a BA in Religion, Mike lived and worked in Osaka, Japan for three years. It was then that Mike decided he wanted to open a restaurant back in the States. After returning to the Washington area, he worked at the Hay-Adams Hotel, the Dixie Grill and McCormick and Schmick’s on K Street before opening his own restaurant, The Broad Street Grill, in Falls Church, VA.

In addition to growing the many programs of the Kitchen, Mike has focused on expanding our social enterprise efforts. In 2009, 46% of the revenue raised by DC Central Kitchen, roughly $3million, was the result of social enterprise and employment projects. This work is continuing through the DC Central Kitchen Growers' Co-op, an innovative program where DC Central Kitchen works directly with local growers to purchase unclassified produce, or "seconds," and turn that product into better food for the Kitchen's partners while saving money and employing more graduates of the Kitchen's Culinary Job Training program. This program is now focused on processing and adding that business to the Kitchen's social enterprise portfolio.

Brian MacNair -

Brian MacNair is responsible for Fundraising, Public relations and communications for DCCK, Fresh Start and the Campus Kitchens Project.  In addition, he works on the development of new projects and program expansion with CEO -Mike Curtin. He and his team raise over $3 million in annual funds through events, appeals, grants and by cultivating solid, long-lasting partnerships by "telling our story".  Before coming to DC Central Kitchen, Brain worked for nonprofits for more than 15 years in New York City. He then changed careers to become a chef, first with his own catering business in New York, then as sous chef for various restaurants in Virginia. Brian’s favorite part of DCCK is the 12-week personal transformation that occurs for participants in DCCK’s Culinary Job Training program.

Other Resources

Learn more about the HUFED Center.
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