National Good Food Network banner image:
                photos of cows, organic produce, apples, semi truck,
                grocery bag
National Good Food Network

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home Resources NGFN Webinars How Regional Food Investment Creates More Equitable Communities
Personal tools

How Regional Food Investment Creates More Equitable Communities

How a business incubator, a value chain coordinator and a funder are increasing equity through food systems.


The Federal Reserve System and USDA have partnered to develop a book focused on the community and economic development opportunities of regional food system investments. This is an unprecedented collaboration with a traditionally conservative section of the Executive Branch. The full report explores many positive community impacts of investing in regional food systems. 

This webinar explores examples of regional food system actors that have been proactive and thoughtful in how they incorporate equity and inclusion considerations into their efforts, including where those have been successful, and where there is opportunity to improve.


  • Jim Barham, USDA Rural Development
  • Andrew Dumont, Federal Reserve System
  • John Flory and Jamie Villalaz, Latino Economic Development Center (business incubator)
  • Benjamin Bartley, La Montañita (Coordinator)
  • Olivia Rebanal, Capital Impact Partners 





Presenter Bios

Jim Barham

Jim BarhamJim Barham is an Agricultural Economist for USDA’s Rural Development agency.   Jim obtained a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida. Before joining the USDA, Jim worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies on agricultural development projects targeting smallholder producers.  Jim joined USDA in 2007 where he has worked to improve marketing opportunities for small and mid-size producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and financial support.  Jim has presented research and published a number of articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and foodservice procurement.  He is the USDA lead for Food LINC – a public-private partnership to support value chain coordination efforts, and serves as Rural Development’s program lead for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.


Benjamin Bartley

Ben BartleyBenjamin Bartley is the Value Chain Specialist for La Montañita Co-op, a retail cooperative and regional food distributor in New Mexico.  In this capacity, Benjamin identifies and facilitates market opportunities for local farmers and ranchers, in addition to providing technical assistance around food safety and buyer expectations.  He has more than fifteen years of experience in the food industry, including professional development at the Culinary Institute of America and the University of Vermont’s Food Hub Management program.  Benjamin was previously the Food Access Director at the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture in Washington, DC.


Andrew Dumont

Andrew DumontAndrew Dumont is a community development analyst at the Federal Reserve Board where he leads the Board’s work on rural development, affordable housing, and other place-conscious community and economic development policy areas. Prior to joining the Board, Andrew worked at Pathway Lending, a community development financial institution serving Tennessee and Alabama, where he worked as a program specialist structuring and underwriting small business loans to further the organization’s economic development priorities. Andrew has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from The George Washington University, a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a Certified Public Accountant.


John Flory

John FloryAs Special Projects Director for Latino Economic Development Center, John has been a small business lender for LEDC for 14 years, and is currently supporting development of Latino and other immigrant farmers and agricultural cooperatives.  John played a key role in organizing the Shared Ground Farmers Cooperative, a local food hub; established a kitchen incubator; and was staff for LEDC as co-developer of Wirth Cooperative Grocery in a low income “food desert” in North Minneapolis.


Olivia Rebanal

Olivia RebanalOlivia M Rebanal is Director of Loan Programs at Capital Impact Partners (CIP), a CDFI that has deployed over $2 billion to serve 5 million people in our communities’ critical sectors: health care, education, elder communities, healthy food, cooperatives and affordable housing. Olivia manages CIP’s Healthy Food Financing strategy, initiatives and partnerships. Through programs like the California FreshWorks Fund, Michigan Good Food Fund, and the National Cooperative Grocer Fund, CIP increases access to affordable healthy food, supports neighborhood retailers, and expands food distribution, processing and production.  Olivia was a lender within the CDFI community for over 10 years and holds an AB in Bio-Medical Ethics from Brown University and an MPA in Public Finance from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.


Jamie Villalaz

Jamie VillalazJaime has been working with LEDC since April 2010 providing technical assistance to Latino businesses and 2011 started to work with Latino farmers and organize cooperatives in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Florida.  His specific activities include: agricultural cooperative development, agricultural and business loan packaging, marketing, and basic recordkeeping instruction, including QuickBooks.

Document Actions