Community Food Centers
The evolution of food system planning has expanded from developing food hubs that aggregate local food and distribute it to local outlets, to building food processing capacity, shared kitchens, grocery stores, and many other types of businesses that form the hard infrastructure of regional food systems. Today, we’re seeing the combination of these enterprises into exciting new developments called Community Food Centers — or sometimes called local food campuses, food business districts, food & agricultural enterprise centers, etc.
Community Food Centers incorporate multiple types of food enterprises, each with a distinct, dedicated space, to enjoy enterprise-level benefits from naturally-occurring synergies and offer benefits to the community. New Venture Advisors has helped to design a wide range of food centers in terms of size, capacities and components which can include a food hub, shared kitchen, food incubator, value added processing, cafe, event space, and community programs (to name a few). We help clients shape their vision for a food center and design them in a way that meets their goals and the needs of stakeholders, whether they be farmers, food entrepreneurs or community members.
Learn more about Community Food Centers on our blog.
Community Food Center Projects
Learn how we have helped our clients develop Community Food Centers:
God’s Pantry Food Warehouse
God’s Pantry Food Bank serves 50 counties in central and eastern Kentucky in partnership with more than 450 food pantries and meal programs. In 2020 God’s Pantry delivered over 40 million pounds of food from its central warehouse and three regional distribution centers. A fourth is planned in partnership with Warehouses4Good that will add storage and distribution capacity for the food bank, and provide a public warehouse for anchor tenants that could operate in any capacity across the food value chain. New Venture Advisors will engage regional stakeholders, develop an operating model that responds to their needs, program the facility according to their requirements, and outline the strategy for securing their participation. (2021)
King County Food Hub Conceptual Site Design and Feasibility Study
King County along with its community partners pursue methods to strengthen local food systems, empower residents to start new businesses, and thereby increase access to healthy, affordable food for underserved communities. These efforts hit a major milestone in 2014, when King County adopted the Local Food Initiative—a roadmap for reinforcing and enhancing local food systems across the King County region. During and since that time, several needs assessments and market evaluations have been conducted related to the local food system infrastructure. These studies have analyzed the pressure points and gaps in private market facilities and the benefits of a consolidated local food facility. New Venture Advisors is helping to build upon these past efforts by working with potential operating partners to refine the operating model, facility plan and conceptual site design for a local food hub and to evaluate its cost and financial sustainability. (2021)
The Food Basket Community Food Center
The Food Basket (TFB) is Hawai`i Island’s food bank. Increasing demand for the services TFB provides the residents of Hawai`i County is beyond the capacity of its Hilo facility. A new food bank warehouse/community food center in East Hawai`i with the capacity to meet the increased food needs for Hawai`i Island residents has the potential to dramatically improve food access for low-income residents, increase resilience and disaster preparedness, and provide food security for Hawai`i Island. New Venture Advisors will help design this new facility to help accommodate TFB’s growth with added features that will enable TFB to offer new programs and services to the community. (2021)
Barry County Blue Zones Initiative: Community Food Center Feasibility Study
Blue Zones Activate Barry County is part of the global movement that has improved health and well being for entire communities and cities. Barry Community Foundation has joined in the effort to make Barry County a healthier place to live, work, grow up, and grow old. The community recently prioritized changes it would like to see in the food environment with 75% voting for a food hall. Other priorities include health and nutrition education, a year round farmers market and a kitchen incubator. Local leaders see an opportunity to integrate these programs into a Community Food Center, and have identified a promising building in downtown Hastings, MI to house them. Before making any investments, New Venture Advisors will conduct a feasibility study to determine if this combination of components is viable, if the building is the right one, or if a different mix of food programs and enterprises or a different location would better serve the community. (2021)
North Central Massachusetts Food Campus Feasibility Study
Central Mass Grown and Growing Places are leading an initiative with the North Central Massachusetts (NCMA) Food System Partnership to improve the health and quality of life for residents in Winchendon, the proposed site of a food center. The food center will not only benefit residents; it will also support local businesses and producers, build community wealth, and catalyze the entire NCMA food system. New Venture Advisors is conducting a feasibility study to verify the infrastructure investments the region needs to grow its local food system, the components that could be most beneficial and viable as part of a food hub or food campus, and the operating model that will enable the food campus to house and coordinate activities onsite and across the region. (2021)
Spartanburg Community Food Center Feasibility Study
Spartanburg Food System Coalition is an initiative of Partners for Active Living, a nonprofit organization that advances active living, promotes healthy eating and fosters health equity in Spartanburg County. The main goals of the Coalition are to create greater access to healthy food and to strengthen the local food system. Its diverse members represent business, academia, government, health care and NGOs focused on healthy eating and community improvement. In 2020, the Coalition completed a food system assessment and plan that pointed to the development of a Community Food Center where many of the recommended initiatives could be located under one roof. A preliminary assessment and budget has been completed, and now New Venture Advisors will assist the Coalition in refining the operating model in preparation for the facility’s development. (2021)
Whatcom Local Food Campus
The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a school district commissary. The goal is to strengthen Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. NVA developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development. (2021)
Food System Planning for the Waukegan Food Ecosphere
The Adelante Center for Entrepreneurship exists to create wealth in distressed communities through entrepreneurship, community development, and living wage job creation, all through a focus on addressing food insecurity. A collective of food initiatives has been identified to be among the first projects undertaken at Adelante: an urban farm with a fresh market and café, a food pantry, farm to school programming, a food hub, a shared kitchen, and a community kitchen serving meals as part of its hunger relief programming. Pre-development work for this ambitious set of projects is underway with New Venture Advisors. (2021)
East End Food Hub Facility Plan
Since 2010, East End Food Institute has supported, promoted, and advocated for the farmers, vintners, fishermen, and other food producers and providers on the East End of Long Island. Since New Venture Advisors completed a food hub feasibility study in 2015, the organization has operated a cafe, workshop space, commercial kitchen, and processing space at Stony Brook University while building the foundation for a more integrated food system. New Venture Advisors is now assisting the Institute in establishing the East End Food Hub as a centralized point of aggregation, processing, and distribution for produce and products from regional farms and food businesses. (2021)
Oneida Community Food Center Business Plan
The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is a federally recognized tribe of Oneida people, with a reservation located on 65,000 acres on the west side of the Green Bay metropolitan area. The tribe works to offer programs, services, and resources that enable the community to carry on with the strength and determination of its ancestors. The Food Center is a new initiative that will teach people how to process and prepare nutritious meals and traditional Oneida foods, serving not only Oneida Nation members, but also entrepreneurs and in the food industry. In 2018 New Venture Advisors investigated the feasibility of this commercial and community-use, regional, and intertribal food production center, and is now assisting with a business plan as the tribe prepares for launch in 2022. (2021)
Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission wants to support business diversification and growth in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia through value-added products and the delivery of agricultural goods and products to new markets. An Agricultural Enterprise Center has the potential to significantly accelerate this growth. This multi-use facility is intended to help growers and producers expand their market area, bridge the market gap, and pool together products to meet market demands. New Venture Advisors completed a feasibility study to determine the size, scale and location of the Ag Enterprise Center, the components to be included, and the economic benefits for the region. (2021) Read the report here.
The Food Mill Operating Model
The Food Mill will become a multifunctional food farmacy to help eliminate barriers and solve issues that lead to food insecurity in Columbus, GA. Operating from the kitchen of a local restaurant and catering business, The Food Mill will offer healthy prepared meals made with locally sourced ingredients to families that are food insecure. In partnership with MercyMed Columbus, a nonprofit healthcare clinic that is located right next door, The Food Mill will also offer medically tailored meals to give patients with diet-related diseases access to proper nutrition for their specific illness. The Food Mill will also invite neighborhood entrepreneurs to build their food businesses in its shared kitchen. New Venture Advisors developed a plan that unifies these businesses under one operating model and expands the retail footprint through a mobile market that will bring prepared meals and fresh grocery items to Columbus Housing Authority locations. (2021)
Wood County Community Food Center
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
This central Wisconsin community has organized a group of stakeholders representing public health, hunger relief, agriculture, public schools, academia and more to explore the feasibility of a Community Food Center. They see the need to create efficiencies between hunger and health organizations, increase accessibility of local foods to visitors and residents, support local farmers and entrepreneurs, and create an environment that eliminates hunger stigma and enhances workforce skill training and development. NVA is helping the health department and its partners in determining a sustainable business model for a Community Food Center that incorporates a hunger relief food pantry and hot meal site, and revenue generation through local food aggregation, processing, and distribution. (2020)