USDA Offers New Resource to Help Food Hubs Improve Financial Performance

LINCOLN, Neb.– USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers has announced a new resource to help food hubs improve their financial performance.  A food hub is a business or organization that manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of locally-produced food which to satisfy growing demand for local products.
 
   The new resource is a report, Running a Food Hub: Assessing Financial Viability, that includes information on how food hubs can maximize profits and control costs. It is part of a multi-volume series published by USDA Rural Development. The report gives technical assistance for food hubs at different stages of development. For example, it provides beginning food hubs with expertise on writing sound business plans. The report includes guidance on how established food hubs can expand into financially viable long-term businesses.
 
   “Food hubs are an exciting and growing business model and so much more,” Rikkers said. “They create positive economic, environmental and social benefits for their communities. This new resource offers practical steps that food hubs can take to be successful in their endeavors.”
 
   Rikkers presented the report at the Union Market, a distribution center run by the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. Arcadia is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that brings local produce to neighborhoods that would otherwise have limited access to fresh food. Union Market, in the northeast section of Washington, D.C., is a food retail space with more than 100 businesses employing 1,500 people in food production and distribution.
 
   Rural Development’s efforts to support food hubs and other regional food enterprises are part of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative (KYF). The initiative breaks down barriers that prevent rural ag producers from connecting with communities and consumers, including those in urban and metro areas. In addition to providing more market opportunities for rural ag producers, it provides rural businesses with assistance in areas such as processing, aggregating and distribution that help bring their products to market.
 
   USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food hub projects since the KYF began. The Department recognizes that the health of our nation’s economy depends on thriving rural businesses.
 
   Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (#USDARD ) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.
 
  For additional information in Nebraska visit www.rd.usda.gov/ne to learn more about programs offered by Rural Development.  To view a list of Nebraska contact information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices/ne.
  President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.