Local food hubs can link farms and schools

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has published a new resource, Using Food Hubs to Create Sustainable Farm to School Programs, that explores the key roles that food hubs can play in the development, support and maintenance of successful Farm to School (FTS) programs.

New concept

While food hubs are a relatively new and evolving concept within the national food movement, Vermont is home to over a dozen food hubs. Their missions range from the aggregation, processing and distribution of locally made foods, to consumer education, to farmer/producer technical assistance.

Created in collaboration by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and four Vermont food hub organizations — Addison County Relocalization Network, Green Mountain Farm to School, Mad River Food Hub/Mad River Localvores and Rutland Area Farm and Food Link — this new resource highlights four case study examples.

The case studies demonstrate different ways hubs can use their existing infrastructure and expertise to support and strengthen Farm to School programs in their communities.

The development of this new Food Hub Guide was made possible by a $100,000 grant awarded by the USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program.

Vermont results

After a year of pilot partnerships between Food Hubs and Farm to School programs, evaluation by UVM Center for Rural Studies reported that local food purchases among schools engaged with their regional food hub increased by 58 percent (overall) and 62 percent (per capita).

While the partnerships between food hubs and Farm to School programs were positive across the board, the specific roles played by Food Hubs varied greatly, including:

  • Fostering connections between schools and local farmers/producers
  • Purchasing, aggregating, processing and distributing local food directly to schools
  • Consumer education
  • Farmer/producer technical assistance
  • General program support

Get the guide

To access the Food Hub Guide and review additional resources, visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food Hub webpage: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/market_access_development/food_hubs.

For more information, contact Abbey Willard at 802-272-2885, or Abbey.Willard@state.vt.us.

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