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What is a Food Hub?

A Food Hub is a facility that provides services such as aggregation, storage, and minimal processing for regionally grown, raised, and produced food products from small and medium sized farms, ranches, and food businesses. The Food Hub connects these small and medium sized suppliers with retail customers and/or wholesale buyers to satisfy commercial (restaurants) and institutional (schools, colleges, senior care facilities, etc.) demand.

What does Central Oregon’s Food Hub provide?

COIC has partnered with a private local food distribution business to realize the goals of a Central Oregon Food Hub. Agricultural Connections is the only regional distributor with a values-based focus on local food as their core mission. They prioritize local producers within Central Oregon, but will purchase as necessary from a larger geographic area in Oregon to meet customer demand. They operate on a competitive basis, and work with producers to ensure wholesale compliance with relevant food safety regulations.

Agricultural Connections is a one-stop place for food sellers and wholesale buyers to purchase local products and access the following services:

  • Product aggregation
  • Product distribution
  • Post-harvest handling with limited processing
  • Post-harvest handling and packaging education for producers
  • Farm pickup service (with minimum volume)
  • Short-term dry, cold and freezer storage
  • Market intelligence and brokerage services
  • Consolidated marketing
  • Wholesale client farm tours
  • Networking with farmers and chefs

Why does Central Oregon need a Food Hub?

Central Oregon is dependent on imported food and parts of the region is considered a “food desert”, meaning access to food is difficult or limited. An infrastructure gap exists which prevents small to mid-sized farmers and food businesses from increasing production to provide consistent, competitively-priced local food to wholesale buyers. In 2017, COIC published the Central Oregon Food Hub Feasibility Study, which demonstrated the need for the Hub and necessary steps to bring this facility to the region.

Food Hub_Casad
“I can grow more potatoes, but I can’t deliver more potatoes.”
CHRIS CASAD, OWNER & PROPRIETER, CASAD FAMILY FARMS

How does the Food Hub impact our region?

The Food Hub provides triple bottom line benefits to our region: economic, social, and environmental.

  • Economic benefits include job creation; increased revenue in the local food sector (farming, ranching and food entrepreneurs/businesses); additional dollars invested into our local economy; and improved export of Central Oregon goods.
  • Social benefits include enhanced food security.  Food security allows for a reduced dependency on imported food to meet our needs. Food security improves regional resilience in instances where the region may experience an emergency situation, such as a natural hazard or limited transportation, which could leave the region solely reliant on current food supplies.
  • Environmental benefits include increased support for our agricultural producers to be stewards of the land, and a smaller food supply footprint based on the fact that the average piece of food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate.

Resources & Studies

Contact

Janel Ruehl, CED Program Administrator

jruehl@coic.org or 541.548.9527