Regional Food Hub Launches in San Francisco
(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) San Francisco, CA – August 16, 2010 – After eight months of planning, the San Francisco Foodshed Project launched in the SF Bay Area thanks to a grant from the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA), administered by Great Valley Center. The project was born out of a recent Urban-Rural Roundtable coordinated by advocacy group Roots of Change, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom, and CDFA.
The project is being executed by both nonprofit and for-profit businesses working together to establish how to set up and grow regional food distribution hubs. This collaborative effort, sometimes called “business clusters”, has proven to be crucial for other regional food programs. Nonprofit organizations handle most of the coordination and outreach, and conventional distributors can handle the heavy-lifting of distribution. Everyone focuses on what they do best.
This SF Foodshed program is no different. FarmsReach is the overall project manager and provides the online system for buyers to track current and upcoming availability. California Alliance with Family Farms (CAFF) identified producers who could meet the needs of larger institutional buyers. Growers Collaborative serves as an aggregation hub for the farms. Finally, conventional distributors FreshPoint SF, SF Specialty and VegiWorks deliver the goods to the eight participating buyers: Living Room Events, Palace Hotel, Paula LeDuc Catering, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, SF Juvenile Hall, St Regis Hotel, Taste Catering, and W Hotel.
Actual deliveries have been running for a few weeks now, and it has already proven to be a learning process for all. Kate Seely of FarmsReach explains, “Our goal is to increase access to fresh foods, help the logistics flow more smoothly, and ultimately enable farms to get a higher return on every dollar. It’s no easy task. But, it’s exciting to see everyone engaged and committed to make this work.”
Scott Davis of FreshPoint SF shares the same commitment: “Many of our customers are requesting to purchase local produce. Partnering with [this project] enables us to expand our local offerings. We believe in the mission and are excited to help make it a success.”
In the coming months, more farms will join the program with the help of other grant recipients Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust (BALT) and Marin Organic. More buyers will be invited to join as well, likely in the Fall.
As the demand for regional food systems grows amidst concerns about the health and safety of our food supply, the SF Foodshed Project is notable in that best practices are all being documented, so others may replicate similar models in other regions.
To see a full list of SF Foodshed grantees and participants, go to www.zerofoodprint.com.
About FarmsReach: FarmsReach works to facilitate regional food systems by fostering collaboration and building tools to serve farmers, aggregators, distributors, and end buyers.
About ROC’s Urban-Rural Roundtable: http://rootsofchange.org/projects/
Recent article highlighting concepts in the regional food hub model: