Local Food Hub
P.O. Box 4647
Charlottesville, Virginia 22905
|Primary Contact||Laura Brown|
|Executive Director||Kristen Suokko|
|Primary Focus Area||Environment|
Local Food Hub is a nonprofit organization that partners with Virginia farmers to increase community access to local food. We provide the support services, infrastructure, and market opportunities that connect people with food grown close to home.
Our vision is that the knowledge and choice of local food becomes the norm, not the exception, for all segments of the community, and that small farms have a strong economic foothold in the marketplace.
We offer a smarter, healthier alternative to traditional agribusiness models by reinstating small farms as the food source for the community. We forge close relationships with our farmers and provide essential services that lead to the direct distribution of fresh, high-quality food to institutions, retailers, restaurants, and schools. We create community partnerships that promote knowledge of and access to local food where it is needed most.
|Description:||While Local Food Hub believes that paying a fair price is the most important thing we can do for farmers, we also know that training, technical assistance, cost-share opportunities, and networking are all critical to helping reinstate small farms as the food source for the community. Our Grower Services Program provides our 60+ partner farmers with the tools and technical assistance they need to navigate the wholesale marketplace and create viable farm businesses.|
|Examples of Program Success:||An annual workshop series focuses on farmer-chosen topics like pest management, financial planning, and season extension. Winter production planning helps farmers determine crop selection, planting selections, and price ranges so that they are able to take advantage of the “off” season and maintain a revenue stream all year long. And, regular farm visits ensure strong connections with growers and provide one-on-one guidance, assistance, and quality control.|
Growers are feeling increasing pressure from buyers to meet stringent food safety standards, and new federal regulations governing farms are currently being implemented. To help growers stay ahead of the curve, Local Food Hub has developed an internal Quality Assurance Program. Growers receive training and support to create and implement customized food safety plans for their farms, and verification that they have met Local Food Hub standards.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, a government- and industry-recognized standard in food safety, is among the highest regarded credentials available. Because the certification process is challenging and there are high costs associated with compliance, Local Food Hub offers cost-share programs and training for growers interested in becoming GAP certified. Ten Local Food Hub growers have achieved GAP in 2015, thanks to the help of our hardworking Director of Grower Services, and join a handful of farms that already hold GAP certification. Get to know all of our growers and learn more about their on-farm practices.
|Description:||Creating a vibrant, resilient local food system with small farms at its center takes a whole community working together. Our communities’ generosity and support allows Local Food Hub to partner with other area nonprofit organizations to ensure that the knowledge and choice of local food becomes the norm, not the exception, for all segments of the community.|
By working with hunger-relief organizations and health clinics, Local Food Hub is getting fresh, nutritious food to those who need it most. And by partnering with youth organizations, school gardening programs, and after-school and summer cooking programs, Local Food Hub is educating a new generation of eaters about the value of eating fresh and local.
|Examples of Program Success:||Nourishing the Hungry|
For many Virginians who rely on food assistance programs, local foods are often out of reach. The Emergency Food Network, which helps families in short-term food crisis, is seek¬ing to change this paradigm, and has partnered with Local Food Hub to offer a regular supply of local fruits and vegetables to its clients. Local Food Hub also donates thousands of pounds of produce each year to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, so local food makes its way into feeding programs throughout the region.
Educating Our Children
The PB&J Fund is a nonprofit organization that works with Charlottesville youth to develop healthier eating habits. Local Food Hub provides fresh fruits and vegetables for its in-school, after-school, and summer cooking programs, and connects students to information about the farms where the food is grown.
Local Food Hub also partners with City Schoolyard Garden and Charlottesville City Schools on the Harvest of the Month: Garden to Table Snack Program. Every month, elementary school students receive a fresh, healthy snack featuring a locally sourced food item grown by Local Food Hub partner farms, as well as nutrition, garden, and culinary education to complement the snacks. The program is connecting students to their food and helping them develop lifelong eating habits.
The Fresh Farmacy: Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program is a partnership between Local Food Hub and three area health clinics. Clinic patients and their families are “prescribed” a biweekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, grown by Local Food Hub partner producers. The prescriptions include recipes and educational programs that help to encourage home cooking and develop familiarity with new foods.
In June 2015, Local Food Hub and Crutchfield Corporation launched a new partnership to increase access to local food and promote healthy eating habits. Through Crutchfield’s Employee Wellness Program, participating employees receive a biweekly share of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables grown by Local Food Hub partner farms, and the cost is shared by the corporation. This pilot program is being evaluated for possible expansion to other local businesses and organizations
|Title:||Farm to School|
|Description:||Getting local foods into schools has benefits that go beyond the lunch tray. When students learn about their foods in the classroom, grow them in the school garden, and taste them in the cafeteria, they are more likely to make healthy choices at home and develop long-lasting nutrition habits. And, when schools invest their food dollars in the local economy, farmers, businesses, and the community all benefit.|
|Examples of Program Success:||Local Food Hub serves more than 70 public schools in eight districts, as well as private schools and universities. Over 40% of students in public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals, and many students rely on school food for their primary source of nutrition. Through snack programs, after-school and summer programs, and the National School Lunch Program, Local Food Hub provides access to farm sourced food for everyone.|
We help nutrition identify opportunities to integrate locally grown produce into meals. Some start small by serving one ready-to-eat item per week, like fresh fruit, while others jump right in, serving butternut squash soup or meatloaf made with grass-fed ground beef and local vegetables.
We partner with other nonprofits to create opportunities for students to learn about and taste new foods beyond the school day. The PB&J Fund offers after-school and summer programs that teach culinary and nutrition education, while City Schoolyard Garden teaches students how to grow and harvest their food.
Our Grower Services Program works with our partner farms to grow school-specific and kid-friendly foods, and assists farmers with implementing season extension techniques on their farm to ensure local produce is available all year.
Virginia Farm to School Week, organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, provides an opportunity for schools and partnering organizations to highlight efforts that are taking place throughout the year to source more school foods locally, and to provide educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. These efforts have benefits that reach beyond the cafeteria since they make a lasting impact on the health and eating habits of the next generation, and farmers benefit from increased market opportunities now and into the future. The week is generally celebrated during the first full week of October.
Local Food Hub works closely with area school partners to develop exciting menus for Farm to School Week, and to organize enriching educational opportunities for students, such as taste tests, meet-the-farmer visits, and gardening activities. In 2015, we delivered more than 5,000 pounds of fresh, local food, including 1,000 pounds of grass-fed ground beef to six school districts, which reached more than 28,000 students. Other items included sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, apples, kale, broccoli, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, gold and red potatoes, apple cider, peppers, and more.
|Title:||Support Our Efforts to Increase Community Access to Local Food|
|Description:||You can build a healthier, tastier, more sustainable food system by supporting Local Food Hub in our mission to partner with small family farms to increase community access to local food. Farmers working with Local Food Hub receive a fair price for their food, a guaranteed market, and the training and tools necessary to be successful. Eighty cents of every dollar in sales goes directly to a farmer.|
Supporting small farms promotes sustainable land stewardship and preserves our open space and Virginia’s agricultural heritage. By sourcing locally, consumers know exactly where their food comes from, and our food system becomes more resilient and trustworthy.
Supporting Local Food Hub also promotes healthy eating in our community. Through our partnerships, we are making fresh, nutritious food available to schoolchildren and to vulnerable families. Your support can ensure that the knowledge of and access to local food becomes the norm, not the exception, for all segments of our community.
Specifically, philanthropic support is used to provide training and assistance to farmers through our Grower Services program, fresh snacks to school kids through the Harvest of the Month program, and fruits and vegetables to low-income health clinic patients through the Fresh Farmacy program. Please contact us for more information.