Three out of four food hubs in the United States are breaking even or turning a profit. One out of three food hub operators are women, and one out of five are people of color. These statistics and more were revealed in a recently-released National Food Hub Survey.
The 2015 survey, conducted by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, came on the heels of a similar survey in 2013. More than 150 food hubs were included in the study, which was designed to identify food hub economic growth patterns.
“The survey shows some positive trends,” says John Fisk, director of the Wallace Center. “Food hubs are emerging and are growing revenue, and continue to be opportunities for small farmers.”
Fisk, along with Jeff Farbman of Winrock International and Rich Pirog and Jill Hardy, both of Michigan State University, spoke about the survey via a webinar conducted by the National Good Food Network.
Muskegon County, Michigan is one step closer to getting a food hub after completing a feasibility study conducted in partnership by Morse Marketing Connections and Cherry Capital Foods, an established food hub located in Traverse City.
In a study conducted in 2015 by County Health Rankings, Muskegon ranked 65 out of 82 for Health Behaviors, which includes factors such as adult obesity and food environment index (economic status and access to consistent sources of healthy food). That’s partly because Muskegon is a food desert.
Food hubs and farm-to-school programs are essential mechanisms in increasing access to food produced locally and sustainably. In Vermont, an effort is underway to combine the power of both.
As the recipient of a USDA farm-to-school grant in 2013, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) produced a report titled “Using Food Hubs to Create Sustainable FTS (Farm-to-School) Programs.” It explores how to leverage “non-traditional resources to expand farm-to-School market relationships between Vermont’s schools and producers.”
The publication was released in March 2015, and now, more than nine months later, VAAFM local foods administrator Abbey Willard is pleased with its impact.
A group of Maine food producers, service workers and community members is out to change the local food system on an institutional scale.
The Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative is the first “farm and sea to institution” food service cooperative in the United States. Comprised of more than 100 owners, the group aims to transform the state’s institutional food service programs—like those in schools, universities and hospitals—by providing a higher percentage of local foods and employees to its partners.
Amy McCann is the director and co-founder of the food hub technology firm Local Food Marketplace. The company provides food hubs with systems management and technology. Their goal is to help food hub clients maximize efficiency and deliver a …
Food hubs are viable businesses with bright futures, according to a recent financial study on food hubs.
The COUNTING VALUES: Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Study drew on financial and operational data from 48 of the more than 300 food hubs in the United States. The report aims to compare results within particular sectors to develop baseline performance statistics.
It’s also the first report of its kind to focus on food hub performance metrics. The report formally defines a regional food hub as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified products primarily from local and regional producers for the purpose of strengthening producer capacity and their access to wholesale, retail, and institutional markets.”
by Traci Knight
Access to fresh, healthy food as an economic development driver is becoming part of the picture in Michigan with the launch of Michigan Good Food Fund in June.
This statewide loan and grant fund will provide financing and business assistance to benefit communities with good food and economic opportunity, by offering funding from a broad sector of stakeholders, nonprofits, and philanthropist groups. The coalition is looking to support businesses to aggregate and distribute fresh produce in underserved communities while simultaneously building local economies.
Just north of San Francisco, Mendocino and Lake counties in California are full of small to medium-sized farmers. Many of them sell at local farmers’ markets.
But John Bailey noticed that the time and money many farmers spend just getting their crops to market can make a substantial dent in profits.
“They spend lots of money going to farmers’ markets, but do not earn a profit from farmers’ markets,” says Bailey. “Lots of farmers have no idea how to sell wholesale.”