Regional food hub guide equips entrepreneurs with useful resources

A new guide for food entrepreneurs, their supporters, those interested in starting food hubs and food hub operators seeking to expand their operations has just been released.

In April 2012, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service and the Wallace Center at Winrock International released the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide.

One of the primary purposes of the guide is to clarify the regional food hub concept. The National Food Hub Collaboration has proposed this definition: “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.”

The guide answers four frequently asked questions about regional food hubs.

  1. What is a regional food hub?
  2. What kind of impacts are regional food hubs having in their communities?
  3. What are some of the barriers impeding regional food hub growth and how might they be addressed?
  4. What financial resources are available to support regional food hub development?  

Market demand for local food is increasing. According to the National Grocers Association’s 2011 Consumer Survey Report, “A much higher proportion of people eat locally grown foods than organic foods. When they think local, they think fresh and want to support local growers/packers.”

Starting or expanding a food hub is a very capital-intensive process. The Regional Food Resource Guide is an invaluable tool for helping navigate the many funding sources, both public and private. Additionally, it features descriptions of 20 existing food hub operations from private to non-profit to cooperative ownership and operation.

More information about food hubs can be obtained from the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. This initiative has no office, staff or dedicated budget, but it strives to provide information and coordinated efforts to support farmers across the county in their efforts to respond to increasing consumer demand for healthy, fresh and local food.

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