A college in central Pennsylvania wants to buy food from local farmers to feed its students, but how? A big box retail store and a hospital in Louisiana would like to sell and serve local foods, but again, how? Rather than having to resort to purchasing food through a large wholesaler, which often means food being shipped from thousands of miles away, local and regional food hubs enable local growers and buyers to connect, keeping dollars in the community and improving health and nutrition. The following are 10 food hubs across the United States that are making it easier to serve up local food.
Local Food Marketplace provides a software platform for food hubs that allows them to reach customers, aggregate production and compete with traditional distribution.
“We help food hubs all the way from the planning process and working with their producers to figuring out what their availability will be on a weekly basis,” says Amy McCann, who co-founded the business in 2009. “We also help with writing sales sheets, creating invoices for customers and managing the distribution to the food hub’s customers.“
McCann says her personal experience working in the food hub environment helps her offer more than just tech support to her customers.
This article is part of a Seedstock series profiling women who are leading change in sustainable agriculture and local food. Read more here.
In 2003, Natasha Lantz became a member and started volunteering at the Marquette Food Co-op, a store that sells locally-produced food in Marquette, Michigan, in the state’s Upper Peninsula. Now, she serves as the organization’s outreach director.
As a volunteer, Lantz found herself unloading trucks, pricing merchandise and stocking shelves. She enjoyed her work, but noticed that not much outreach to the community was taking place. She asked management if she could start a bulletin board—this was approved. She later successfully ran for a position on the Co-op’s board of directors, and kept volunteering.
Agriculture has been a way of life in New Mexico for centuries. The communal irrigation canals, or acequias, and the lands they water have been passed down by family farmers generation after generation.
Today, New Mexico is returning to its agricultural roots as a way to revitalize its cities.
Espanola, New Mexico, a town of just under 10,000 people located 22 miles from Santa Fe, is leading the way with a regional food hub initiative to connect farmers with consumers while bringing new life to the city’s downtown.
Local food growers, consumers and entrepreneurs in the Lansing, Michigan area have had good cause to celebrate as of late. Last September, Allen Neighborhood Center, a community development agency that doubles as Mid-Michigan’s nonprofit food hub, opened the doors of a warehouse they’d spent months renovating.
Located directly behind their community center on the city’s northeast side, that building, the Allen Market Place, now serves as an incubator kitchen and indoor market. It’s also linked to an online market called the Exchange, that connects regional farmers and food producers with commercial and institutional buyers in a 75-mile range of Lansing.
When it comes to food, Robert Egger is all in favor of making the most of what you’ve got.
Twenty-five years ago, Egger founded D.C. Central Kitchen, a “community kitchen” that uses salvaged food to make meals for agencies servicing low-income and homeless individuals and provides culinary training to unemployed men and women.
Egger stepped down as its president last year to start a new project called L.A. Kitchen, based in his hometown of Los Angeles. Similar in concept to the D.C. nonprofit, the new kitchen places a greater emphasis on participating in the local food economy. Egger sees the effort as “taking charity up a notch” and establishing “a self-sustaining model” that supports local farmers, helps local residents and provides opportunities for men and women who may face barriers to employment.
It’s getting easier to buy food grown in northeast Iowa, thanks to a regional food hub,.
For small to mid-sized farming operations, associating with a regional food hub can mean selling more crops, reaching more markets, and earning more money to reinvest in the farm. Associating with a food hub also means that more food can be distributed to markets nearby, a boon for the regional economy. Food hubs help farmers aggregate, market, and distribute their goods, jobs that growers may not have time or money to do themselves.
Fertile soil, water and compost aren’t the only ingredients that make a local foods scene blossom. Sometimes what’s needed is a helping hand.
In Waitsfield, Vermont this takes the form of a food warehouse, processing and distribution center known as the Mad River Food Hub.
The 4,000-square-foot facility caters to farmers and food processing businesses in central Vermont’s Mad River Valley. The area is home to several small communities and dozens of farms and serves as a popular tourist destination for skiers and summer idlers.
Founded three years ago, the Mad River Food Hub came about as a combination of the British entrepreneur Robin Morris’ love for local foods and his experience in the business world.