Food hubs are businesses or organizations that aggregate, distribute, and market local and regional food products, usually fresh fruits and vegetables, but also sometimes meat, dairy, grains, prepared foods, or other items. There are many different types of food hubs including retail-driven, non-profit-driven, producer-driven, and consumer-driven models (USDA-Diamond 2012, Horst 2011). Food hubs often provide participating farmers with access to marketing and sales services, value-added processing, advertising, delivery trucks, and liability insurance (Gaskin 2013).
Expected Beneficial Outcomes
- Strengthened local & regional food systems
- Increased access to fruits & vegetables
- Increased access to healthy food
Evidence of Effectiveness
Food hubs are a suggested strategy to improve local and regional food systems, facilitate fruit and vegetable purchases by schools, hospitals, and small stores, and increase access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods in low income communities (CDC-State indicator 2013, Lerman 2012, USDA-Food hubs, Matson 2013, Schmit 2013). Food hubs are also a suggested strategy to improve rural economies and increase the economic viability of small- to mid-size farms (Gaskin 2013, NGFN-Food hub, Lerman 2012, USDA-Food hubs, Schmit 2013). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.
Food hubs are associated with increased sales opportunities for farmers, increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers, and increased use of local foods by schools, businesses, and restaurants (Schmidt 2011). By providing a single reliable point of purchase for high quality produce, food hubs can lower costs of fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers and institutions such as schools, hospitals, and convenience stores (CDC-State indicator 2013). The costs of new infrastructure for cold storage, processing, marketing, and distributing and the need to secure a sizeable number of suppliers and buyers can be challenges to starting a new hub (Lerman 2012).
As of 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 213 food hubs and 27 state-level food policy councils across the US (CDC-State indicator 2013).
- CDC – National Action Guide
- Food Hub, Knowledge Base,
- Food Hubs: Building Stronger Infrastructure for Small and Mid-Size Producers, USDA
- Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution, USDA
- Building Successful Food Hubs, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
- Food Hub Knowledge, National Good Food Network
- Food Hubs, Healthy Food Access Portal
- Food hubs across the nation-new study examines leading models and best practices, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Council
- SOLIDARIT Y A Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives Manual as a Business Model, USDA
- Regional Food Hub Resource Guide, USDA
- Regional Food Hubs: Understanding the scope and scale of food hub operations, USDA
- Local Food Hub – Food Grown Close to Home, Local Food Hub, Charlottesville, VA
- A Guide to Funding Opportunities and Incentives for Food Hubs and Food Systems, Healthy Food Portal
- Food Hub Resources, Marketing Local Food, University of Minnesota Extension
- What Are Food Hubs and Why Do They Matter?, Smart Marketing, USDA
- CDC Study: Farmers Markets, Food Hubs & Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs Play Critical Role in Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
- Food Hubs, Magazines Today
- Scores of Food Hubs Funded through USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Bright Seed Strategies
- The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing, USDA
- FOOD HUB BUSINESS ASSESSMENT TOOLKIT, Wholesome Wave
- Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit, Healthy Food Access Portal
- Build, Prepare, Invest: Assessing Food Hub Businesses for Investment Readiness, National Good Food Network
- Food Hubs and Values Based Supply Chains: A Toolkit for California Farmers and Ranchers, University of California
- Equitable Development Toolkit – Equitable Food Hubs, PolicyLink