National

Food hubs are businesses or organizations that collect and distribute food products within a specific region. These hubs bring together local and regional food to wholesale, institutional and retail markets, and they complement food access and security initiatives in communities.

Hubs play a role in the creation of healthy, sustainable food systems, as well as assist local growers with food safety certifications and provide greater fresh food access to under-served communities.

A challenge for food hubs is maintaining profitability amidst growing labor costs.

Support for local agriculture

Food hubs support small- and medium-sized farmers within local communities. The 2017 National Food Hub Survey found that 89% of hubs source food mostly or exclusively from small to mid-sized farms and ranches.

The survey also found:

  • 82% of hubs say increasing small- and mid-sized farmers’ and ranchers’ access to markets is strongly related to their mission
  • 82% of hubs say ensuring producers and suppliers receive a fair price is related to their mission

Socially conscious businesses

Food hubs need to continue to mature and find more stable models for socially conscious businesses.

Balancing supply and demand is consistently the top-ranked challenge for food hubs, according to the 2017 National Food Hub Survey.

The survey also found:

  • 64% of hubs report being able to carry out their core functions without grant funding
  • 36% of hubs report being highly dependent on grants.

Of the 35 hubs reporting that they are highly dependent on grants, 26 were nonprofit food hubs that may be intentionally trading profitability for greater social impact.

"Understanding how food hubs work is interesting, but knowing how food hubs can be profitably sustainable is essential."

— Gary Matteson, Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach

Quoted in the 2017 National Food Hub Survey


 

  • Findings of the 2017 Food Hub Survey

    Published on April 3, 2018

    The new report spans six years and draws on three surveys – 2013, 2015, and 2017 – to provide the most current and comprehensive picture of U.S. food hubs and their impacts.

  • Changing the landscape of food insecurity

    Published on May 2, 2017

    The USDA is committed to fighting food insecurity and food waste, and consumers can also reflect on their food waste to minimize the loss of food.

10 Cents a Meal for School Kids and Farms 2018-2019 Legislative Report

March 21, 2019

How did Michigan benefit from 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids and Farms? Read about the impacts in the Michigan Department of Education's 2018-2019 Legislative Report.

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2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey

September 11, 2018

The results of the 2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey are available for partners and supporters to use and share in their networks.

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