As a member of the New London County Food Policy Council Food Hub Project, we are currently partnered with the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut and New Venture Advisors in conducting a food hub feasibility study for New London County. The Council is a collaboration of food growers, local institutions and organizations, and strives to ensure that affordable and nutritious food is available to every resident of southeastern Connecticut. One effective way that has been replicated in other regions around the country is the creation of food hubs.
Food hubs are organizations that aggregate, market, and distribute the products of local and regional producers, with the end goal of strengthening the local food economy. Buyers might include restaurants, schools and grocery stores, and chefs, while suppliers would mainly rely on local farmers and specialty producers. Our consultants, New Venture Advisors, have been hired onto this project with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as part of a federal initiative aimed at improving local food system stability.
However, in order to implement a food hub, we are conducting a feasibility study, which entails a large scale cost-benefit analysis, a local production analysis and a local demand/consumption analysis. We are currently beginning the data collection process that will allow us to complete these three important analyses. To achieve this study we are collaborating with New Venture Advisors, a consultant group with expertise in food systems! To start the study we had a kick off event. The event took place at the Charter Oak Credit Union Headquarters in Waterford on Thursday, February 26, at 8:30 AM. There was a portion that was a presentation from the consultants and the leaders of the study, and we then broke up into three tables, having conversations about the food possibility of a food hub. We had over 50 community members from all across the county representing the sectors that will collectively make this study a success: growers, buyers, government, hospitals, non-profits, and K-12 and higher education. We were incredibly pleased to see the wide variety of community organizations represented at the kick-off event because this effort belongs to everyone in New London County and its ultimate success will depend on our commitment to open and dynamic collaboration.