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.


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Community Food Center Projects

Learn how we have helped our clients develop Community Food Centers:

Renew Moline Community Food Center

Moline, IL

Renew Moline is a nonprofit organization leading redevelopment projects to restore vibrancy in the downtown riverfront area. Moline is a multicultural community that actively welcomes immigrants from around the world. New Venture Advisors is part of a team exploring the redevelopment of a historic building in the riverfront district to serve this community with a business incubator, as well as a food hall, shared kitchen, indoor farm, rooftop restaurant, and the potential for a surrounding food district – concepts that emerged from a recently-completed feasibility study and a riverfront master planning process underway. New Venture Advisors is refining the concept based on input from the community to confirm market, operating and financial viability. (2024)

International Public Market Feasibility Study

King County, WA

The Port of Seattle and King County are exploring the potential development of an International Public Market in South King County. The market would be a central retail location where independent vendors can sell food and other products, often with a cultural relevance, in stalls, booths or shops, supporting entrepreneurship for growing businesses, and creating gathering spaces for locals and tourists alike. This facility has the potential to advance King County as a leading tourism destination while providing nearby communities with economic opportunities and access to culturally representative foods. The Port and County partnered with New Venture Advisors to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the concept is the right fit for the community and region. (2024)

The Food Mill Food Infrastructure and Ag Corridor

Columbus, GA

The Food Mill and its partners are developing a small corridor of food-focused facilities and properties along the 2nd Avenue corridor in downtown Columbus. The focus of these projects is to enable the expansion of food-access and agricultural programming (which they currently operate) into a diversified network of food enterprises including medically tailored meals, a shared kitchen, an incubator program, increased agricultural growing and community growing sites, food truck and food retail vending spaces, and outdoor recreation spaces. New Venture Advisors has supported the Food Mill in developing market space and operations  since the expansion of their original facility in 2021, and is currently assisting The Food Mill in defining the concept for this collaboration, its partnerships, operating model, and facilities design through a phased development process funded by a 2021 Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant. The Food Mill is working collaboratively in Columbus with key partners like Open Door Community House, Mercy Medical, and others to support this ambitious development project. (2024)

Detroit Food Commons Operating Plan

Detroit, MI

The Detroit Food Commons is an ambitious community development project that will bring a full-service co-op grocery store, non-profit office space, four incubator kitchens and a banquet hall/community space to the North End neighborhood of Detroit. The $22 million project is spearheaded by Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) and Develop Detroit Inc. Detroit Food Commons will begin operations in a new 31,000 sq. ft. building in early 2024. To prepare for opening, New Venture Advisors is assisting DBCFSN with an operating plan and financial projections for the kitchen and banquet spaces. (2024)

Community Health Education & Food Center Feasibility Study

DeKalb County, IL

Through a novel partnership led by DeKalb County Community Gardens, a new community campus will be developed that will foster well-being through food, healthcare, social services, and connections. The Community Health Education & Food Center (CHEF) will be the first of its kind in Northern Illinois. The multi-acre campus will feature commercial spaces including expanded DCCG farm operations (both cultivable land and greenhouses), garden retail center, food hub, kitchens, retail and cafe spaces, as well as programming promoting food access, nutrition education, civic engagement and social services. New Venture Advisors has supported multiple phases of outreach with partners and community members to validate the campus components, operational and financial modeling to identify sustainable operating targets, and is developing updated business plans for the campus’s new location and design. (2024)

California Indian Traditional Food Incubator Feasibility Study

Santa Rosa, CA

The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center (CIMCC) educates the public about the history, cultures, and contemporary life of California Indians and honors their contributions to civilization. Since 2015, CIMCC has offered training and technical assistance programs to serve the culturally specific foodways knowledge, skills and business development needs of traditional food producers. Now it is exploring a kitchen incubator at CIMCC to provide production facilities and support for American Indian/Alaska Native traditional food producers in Sonoma County. New Venture Advisors assisted with the feasibility study and management plan. (2023)

Food Bank Collaboration for Northern Michigan

Flint, MI

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and Feeding America West Michigan teamed  up to explore the feasibility of a shared warehouse and resource center to increase distribution through their nonprofit partner agencies in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Both food banks are challenged to navigate logistical challenges and the high cost of procuring and shipping food across the span of rural, northern counties of Michigan.  Seeking to address hunger in every community, the joint project also looked  to increase the number and depth of relationships with local agricultural producers to provide a variety of nutritious, fresh products to neighbors facing hunger.  By exploring additional warehousing and distribution capabilities in the state’s northern region, the food banks worked with NVA to seek out potential solutions to address the gaps in service that contribute to the high food insecurity rates in these remote geographies. New Venture Advisors examined the impact that a jointly-operated facility might have in improving service to these northernmost counties and developed a business model to explore its optimal location and project model for the partners. (2023)

Whatcom Local Food Campus

Bellingham, WA

Whatcom Community Foundation continues to partner with New Venture Advisors to refine the business case for their Local Food Campus (LFC), which will 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. In addition, NVA supported a proof-of-concept development and funding planning around a pandemic program (Farm to Freezer) that WCF developed with regional partners. Today, NVA is conducting a feasibility study for the expansion of the farm-to-institution program and its potential relocation to the LFC. (2024)

The Food Basket Community Food Center

Hilo, HI

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. TFB’s proposed campus supports the organization’s objective to eliminate hunger across the island of Hawai’i and identify new and innovative methods of providing food, education, and access to community members.  New Venture Advisors developed the design and supporting modeling for a 4-building campus to help accommodate TFB’s growth with added features that will enable TFB to offer new programs and services to the community. NVA continues to support the development project via design, updated financial modeling, funding development, business planning and continued engagement with partners. (2024)

Barry County Blue Zones Initiative: Community Food Center Feasibility Study

Hastings, MI

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 prioritized changes it would like to see in the food environment with a majority of community members assembled at a summit voting for a food center and opportunities to prioritize health and nutrition education. Other ideas included a location for a year round farmers market and a kitchen incubator. Local leaders saw an opportunity to integrate these programs into a Community Food Center, and have identified a promising development site in Hastings, MI. New Venture Advisors conducted a feasibility study to determine if the proposed combination of components is viable, the best mix of food programs and enterprises to meet community aims, and the potential of various locations to serve as the site partner. NVA continues to support development efforts guiding the project through development with a construction partner, and finalizing design and modeling to support its sustainable operations. (2024)

King County Innovation Hub Feasibility Study

Kent, WA

King County and the City of Kent, along with their 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 that can support food businesses looking to scale production and manufacturing. New Venture Advisors conducted a feasibility study to identify the appropriate facility elements to support these objectives, develop conceptual designs for an innovation help, and help conduct outreach to identify partners who could support operations.  The work continued in 2022-2023 with NVA 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 evaluating its cost and financial sustainability. NVA also continued to support engagement and outreach for the County and City via a series of webinars, news updates, and interviews to ensure that all community groups in the local ecosystem could identify opportunities for collaboration, partnership, or additional projects that support the continued development of the local food system. (2023)

North Central Massachusetts Food Campus Feasibility Study

Winchendon, MA

Growing Places and Central Mass Grown lead initiatives with the North Central Massachusetts Food System Partnership to improve the health and quality of life for residents in the region. After identifying several gaps in the food system, they began working with New Venture Advisors in 2021 to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study and later a business plan that led to the development of Local Food Works, a regional food center that aggregates and distributes local food products from 30+ area farms. Now they are assessing the integration of light processing for local fruits and vegetables at the Gardner, MA facility. The work will evaluate customer demand to determine how the facility will be designed and equipped to meet the needs of retail, wholesale, and institutional customers. (2024)

Food System Planning for the Waukegan Food Ecosphere

Waukegan, IL

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 indoor farm and growing facility, an innovative approach to a food pantry, farm to school programming, a food hub, a shared kitchen, and a retail and food hall concept offering local access to diverse food and grocery options. Pre-development work for this ambitious set of projects is underway with New Venture Advisors. (2024)

Eastern Market Processing and Distribution Expansion Study

Detroit, MI

Eastern Market has been a working food district for 130 years. The market campus is a network of sheds and flexible spaces that support retail and wholesale operations, programming, parking, and community events. Eastern Market Partnership, the managing nonprofit, has been planning with the City of Detroit for several years to expand the Market. Food processing, warehousing and distribution businesses will relocate to adjacent sites in two new food safety compliant facilities, opening space for retail and public events on the main campus.  New Venture Advisors  conducted a feasibility study for the proposed expansion and designed the facilities to meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders who make up the Market ecosystem. (2022)

God’s Pantry Food Warehouse

Lexington, KY

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 engaged regional stakeholders, developed an operating model that responded to their needs, programmed the facility according to their requirements, and outlined a strategy for securing their participation. (2022)

Warehouses4Good Mississippi Delta Food Warehouse

Moorhead, MS

Warehouses4Good is a non-profit organization building a national network of one hundred food warehouses serving rural America, increasing the capacity and integrity of our food value chain. A USDA Rural Business Development Grant was awarded to develop one of its first facilities located in the South Delta region. It will be constructed within an existing building owned by a non-profit organization, housing dry and cold storage, value-added processing, and space for food-related agencies and organizations. The warehouse will strengthen the local food supply chain, support food distributors and small grocers, and geographically expand market opportunities for small farmers and food manufacturing businesses in a seven-county area. New Venture Advisors conducted a commercial assessment to determine the operating model and building program that will meet their requirements. (2022)

Oneida Community Cannery

Oneida, WI

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 Oneida Community Cannery 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 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 in 2022 completed a business plan as the tribe prepares for launch. (2022)

Spartanburg Community Food Center Feasibility Study

Spartanburg, SC

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. NVA has completed a preliminary assessment of the community’s needs and recommended continued pathways for building community engagement and navigating the development of an operational model. (2021)

East End Food Hub Facility Plan

Southampton, NY

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 also assisted 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) 

Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study

Staunton, VA

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.

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)

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 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 collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening 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. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)