Latest national food hub survey findings released

National survey documents impacts of food hubs on local food systems.

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, in partnership with the Wallace Center, has released the findings from the 2015 National Food Hub Survey. Completed by 150 food hubs operating around the country, the survey builds upon national survey data collected in 2013 in an effort to aggregate national data on the characteristics and impact of food hubs.

For those who don’t know, a food hub is a business or organization that works to collect and distribute source-identified food products within a specific region. They have been in existence for many years and have been gaining popularity as communities attempt to recreate local food supply chains across the country. Food hubs work to bring local and regional food to wholesale, institutional and retail markets.

Results of the survey showed the following trends in food hub operation and characteristics:

  • Food hub supplier and customers are almost entirely regional.
  • Food hubs are good for small and medium-sized agriculture operations.
  • Food hubs strive to increase community food access and improve health outcomes. 

These trends demonstrate the important core value that many food hubs embrace. Food hubs, by definition, are rooted in their local communitites and play a role in the creation of healthy, sustainable food system within local communities. This includes working to assist local growers with food safety concerns and certifications, helping to provide greater fresh food access to underserved communitiies, and many more social enterprise activities.        

The study also revealed that the number of new and emerging food hubs continues to grow with 31 percent of total survey respondents having been operating two years or less. In addition, several food hubs that were planning to open their doors during the 2015 growing season were not included in the survey results.

A deeper dive into the survey findings will shed light on how food hubs are operating, their growing focus on food safety, their financial well-being and how they shape their values and mission. For more information on food hubs in Michigan, visit the website of the Michigan Food Hub Network, a group of food hub practitioners, researchers, technical assistance providers and other supply chains who collaborate to further food hub development around the state.

If you are looking for more information about food hubs operating in your area or are looking to start one of you own, contact your local Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems educator.

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