Where are Michigan’s food hubs?
Learn more about the key projects growing the local food system in Michigan.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a working definition of food hubs. This definition is as follows: “Food hubs are centrally located facilities with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” Products from food hubs are unique in that, most of the time, they are source identified. This means buyers know which farm their food came from and this information can be communicated to consumers. Since the development of the Michigan Good Food Charter in 2010, our state has invested significant resources into the development of regional food hubs.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development believes that regional food hubs provide a market niche for small to mid-size farmers that the current conventional food distribution does not provide. Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems conducted a national food hub survey in 2013. This survey showed that most regional food hubs support the growth of mid-sized farm businesses and encourage smaller farmers to scale up their operations. The survey also demonstrated that the majority of food hubs helped increase access to healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods, which supports a healthier population.
Michigan State University Extension has community food systems educators working in partnership with many organizations to build Michigan’s local food system and launch new regional food hubs. To our knowledge, there is no centralized list of all of our state’s food hubs. This article is an attempt to compile the most comprehensive list of the current Michigan food hub projects as of January 2015. The criteria we used for this list is as follows: 1) distribution of source-identified food products from more than one farm; and 2) wholesale sales to restaurants and institutions (hospitals, colleges, K-12 schools).
We apologize to any projects that we mistakenly omitted. We would like to note that farmers markets and kitchen incubators play a critical role in local food systems; however, they do not meet the criteria for this list.
To organize a presentation on food hubs for your office or organization, contact a member of the MSU Extension community food systems work team. You are also welcome to become a member of the Michigan Food Hub Network, which is open to all.