Creating Region-Wide Food Cooperatives
Traditionally, Indiana has been an export of its food products and was ranked 8th in 2010 among the nation's largest agricultural exporters. In March 2010, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) announced "Indiana Grown". The Program is a cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesales, retailers, and ISDA to brand and promote Indiana produce and production.
Local food markets in and around West Central Indiana typically involve small farmers and short supply chains in which the farmer performs marketing functions, including storage, packaging, transportation and distribution. Many barriers exist to local food market entry and expansion especially by small farm entrepreneurs, who often do not have access to the tools and resources to minimize these barriers and increase local market share. A Food Hub will create a ripple effect as income and tax dollars are retained and circulated locally.
The primary goal of this effort is to create and launch the Wabash Valley Food Hub, as a member driven organization that collectively manages the aggregation, distribution and marketing of source identified food products in West Central Indiana. Included within this goal is the implementation of activities of the Food Hub, which include gathering information, recruiting prospective members, identifying needs, and organizing members in activities that increase the direct access of farm products to local consumers including those in the food deserts of the multi-county cooperative. The intent of the Wabash Valley Food Hub is to be a catalyst for making Indiana Grown an economic success in West Central Indiana by developing a network of local suppliers and food producers.
As project coordinator, RUEDI has acquired the services of J3 Concepts to be responsible for coordinating tasks outlined to bring the Food Hub to fruition. Attachment 12, The Logic Model for the Wabash Valley Food Hub provides a timeline for major activities. Tasks are not intended to be sequential but will overlap and in many cases continue through the life of the organization. While the Food Hub will have multiple positive effects on the community, three primary expected outcomes include: 1.) increased economic vitality within West Central Indiana rural communities; 2.) increased health among residents of the region from increased consumption of fresh local foods; 3.) increased access to fresh, healthy foods within regional USDA-food deserts.
What is the status of the Food Hub?
We are currently building awareness of the food hub effort and are gearing up for a series of post-harvest stakeholder meetings. If you are interested in this project and want to offer feedback, or just want to know more, please contact the project managers to be added to our contact list. Their contact information follows: