Imagine if local schools were able to source local produce to serve to children.
This is the most basic reasoning behind the partnership of the two economic development groups in the Copper Corridor.
They want to create a food hub for local farmers and institutions – and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is backing it.
Plans are in the works for a possible Community Food Hub. A Food Hub survey is being conducted by and sponsored by the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation, Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition (CCEDC) and Local First Arizona who have partnered to determine if there is enough community interest and if the community has enough resources and support for a Food Hub. Public meetings and surveys are being conducted to determine the interest and feasibility of a Food Hub for the copper communities area which includes the towns and areas of Oracle, San Manuel, Mammoth, Aravaipa, Dudleyville, Hayden-Winkelman, Kearny, Superior, Globe-Miami and San Carlos. This is funded through a grant from the USDA.
The USDA’s definition of a Food Hub is a “centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products”. Food Hubs work with food producers, institutional buyers, and consumers. They work with producers, offering training, technical assistance and business development plans that allow them to produce food and access wholesale and retail markets. A Food Hub may provide liability insurance, food processing and packaging facilities.
They work with institutional buyers who purchase food for retailers or institutions like school cafeterias, hospitals, senior centers and restaurants. They help identify local purchasing needs and connect them with regional producers.
The Food Hub works with local consumers by identifying the demand for regionally produced food and providing knowledge and awareness of local food production. Some of the activities they provide for consumer awareness are educational workshops, community meetings & events, food bank donations and composting programs. Their goals are to “connect our food growers to grow a stronger economy and healthy communities”.
Karalea Cox of the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation says that a Food Hub “provides services to producers that a farmer’s market does not. Food Hubs are one of the keys to fixing the problem of food deserts.” The survey of regional food producers and consumers is being conducted now and will be ongoing for a few more months. They would like to hear from food producers no matter how small your garden, farm/ranch or business. If you raise cattle, pigs, chickens, grow produce, nuts, or sell/produce, tortillas, eggs, baked goods, honey, jams/jellies, etc. please take the survey.
Consumers should take the survey to help determine what produce and food products are wanted in the community. How far one is willing to travel for quality food items and what type of Food Hub is needed in the region to fill the demand. You can take the consumer survey by clicking here. The survey for farmers/producers is here. You can also learn more about the Copper Corridor Food Hub by visiting their Facebook page.
Organizations and groups can also contact the Copper Communities to have them give a presentation about the Food Hub and what it can mean for the community.