State of the Food Hub - National Survey Results
An NGFN Food Hub Collaboration report on the state of food hubs in the US in 2013, including their businesses, their impacts, their challenges and their innovations.
Food hubs - businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand – hold incredible promise for positive impacts. At the middle of the food value chain, hubs’ influence on the economy, social equity, and the environment can be great.
Proponents and detractors alike, including funders, academics and food hub managers, are seeking real data that can better explain the scope and scale of food hub activities and their influence on their regions. In early 2013, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the Wallace Center at Winrock International surveyed over 100 food hubs across the country to understand their businesses, their impacts and their challenges. This webinar presented the State of the Food Hub.
Key findings from the report presented include:
- The operating structures that food hubs have taken on
- Food hub’s employee and management profiles
- Information about food hub producers and customers
- Information regarding the financial status of food hubs
- Major challenges and barriers to growth faced by food hubs
Micaela Fischer is a Graduate Affiliate with the Michigan State University Centerfor Regional Food Systems. She is also a Master's student with the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State. Micaela moved to MSU after five years as an advocate focused on agricultural and environmental policy with the Pew Environment Group in Washington, DC. Micaela’s current research is focused on food hubs and their role in developing a more diverse and equitable agrifood system. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Wichita State University in 2006.
Rich Pirog joined the newly created Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University as senior associate director in May 2011. His current work includes developing a statewide food hub learning and innovation network and providing oversight to new Center work groups that include Center and MSU faculty and staff. From October 1990 to May 2011 he was associate director and program leader for marketing and food systems at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. At the Leopold Center Pirog directed the Value Chain Partnerships (VCP) project, an Iowa-based network of food and agriculture working groups that provides technical assistance to farmer-led food businesses in Iowa.
Through VCP, Pirog led the Regional Food Systems Working Group, which focuses on making the case for investment in local and regional food businesses and networks. There currently are 16 local food groups representing more than 80 Iowa counties that participate in the Regional Food Systems Working Group.
Pirog recently led the development of Iowa’s Local Food and Farm Plan, which was mandated by the Iowa legislature and includes funding and policy recommendations to develop a stronger local food economy in Iowa.
Pirog’s research and collaborations on local and place-based foods, food networks and communities of practice, food value chains, and ecolabels has been publicized in magazines and media outlets across the globe, used by local food practitioners, and are often cited in books and college courses. In 2003, he received the Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa, and in 2004, he received the Iowa State University College of Agriculture Award for Outstanding Achievement and Service.
John Fisk, PhD, has an extensive history as a national leader in sustainable and equitable food systems work and currently serves as the Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, based in Arlington, Virginia. Under Dr. Fisk’s leadership, the Wallace Center has emerged as a national force in food systems work utilizing a market-based solutions strategy for linking a larger number of people and communities to “good food”— food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable.
Prior to joining the Wallace Center, Fisk served as board chairperson and later as Director for Programs and Development at Michigan Food and Farming Systems, a statewide sustainable food systems organization, where he lead work to mobilize values-driven markets for sustainably produced agricultural products. Fisk has provided food systems consulting to several Michigan-based organizations including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In his work with the Kellogg Foundation, he provided strategic leadership to the Food and Society Initiative (FAS) as well as grantee support and review and has directed the FAS Networking Conference for six years which has become one of the premiere conferences in the nation for advancing sustainable food systems change.
Fisk is a published author of agricultural research and has written several chapters on sustainable food and farming systems. He has served as a Fellow in the Donella Meadows Leadership Program for Systems Thinking at the Sustainability Institute and was also awarded a C.S. Mott Fellowship of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University. Fisk holds a PhD in Crop and Soil Sciences from Michigan State University, a Masters in Agronomy from University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor degree in Environmental Studies-Agroecology from the University of California-Santa Cruz.