Food Hubs

Sixty-two percent of consumers are more likely to buy food and beverages described as local, and 57% seek out restaurants offering locally sourced products, according to Technomic. More than half of consumers say local foods taste better, and nearly as many agree local foods are higher in quality and less processed. Meeting this demand is challenging. Connecting small to medium sized growers with the buyers who are looking for local produce can be complex. Farmers and buyers grapple with everything from pricing strategy, distribution, food safety, seasonality, availability of supply, quality and consistency of product.

Food hubs have emerged to help address these challenges and connect farmers to markets seeking their products. Food hubs aggregate, distribute, and market source-identified food products from local and regional producers into wholesale, retail, and institutional buyers. No two hubs look the same. They can focus on any number of farm products – fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, specialty goods and/or value added products. They range from large warehouse facilities to online marketplaces to processing facilities to technical assistance providers.

A food hub is often launched because a farmer, buyer, nonprofit, community organization or planning group has a vision of strengthening the local supply chain in their region. We help these groups conduct studies to determine the optimal operating model for a food hub given their goals and regional context, assess the financial viability of these potential food hubs, and develop robust business plans to launch these enterprises.

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New Venture Advisors is a team of business consultants specializing in local food system planning and new enterprise development.

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Food Hub Projects

Santa Clara County Community Food Hub Feasibility Study

San Jose, CA

Veggielution has provided community-centered programming at Emma Prusch Farm Park since 2008, with a special emphasis on fostering community and family engagement in the diverse, low-income, working immigrant neighborhood of Mayfair in East San José. The community farm  and farmstand is on a 6 acre site where they offer education programs, community engagement activities, support for mobile- and home-based entrepreneurs, and food box distribution and delivery. New Venture Advisors is helping Veggielution assess the feasibility of opening a food hub and determining the location, operating model and components that could best serve the diverse groups of food entrepreneurs and farmers in the region surrounding San José. (2023)

RG Foods Food Hub Cooperative Feasibility Study

Tulsa, OK

RG Foods enhances the health of northeast Oklahoma through food-based community revitalization, providing expanded access to fresh, quality foods in the Tulsa area. The organization runs mobile and micro grocery stores to actively combat food deserts, and there are many other agencies, organizations and independent grocers across the region devoted to increasing retail food access, whose programs and enterprises can be strengthened through collaboration. RG Foods is spearheading a food hub cooperative to facilitate this collaboration. A jointly owned and operated warehouse would enable group purchasing and coordinated warehousing, distribution, deliveries and backhauls across the regional food system. New Venture Advisors will be conducting a feasibility study to evaluate the potential for this food hub cooperative and design a facility to meet the needs of its future members and the stakeholders they serve. (2023)

Roaring Fork Valley Regional Food Facilities Feasibility & Design

Basalt, CO

In 2008, Pitkin County purchased and renovated two historic buildings that were once used to store and distribute food. They are beloved by the community, and there is strong interest in examining the feasibility of returning them to use as a food access hub serving agricultural producers and other community needs. The County is collaborating with LIFT-UP food banks and Aspen Community Foundation to evaluate how these buildings could be repurposed, along with other facilities in the Aspen area, to provide a more comprehensive food system infrastructure supporting hunger relief, agricultural production, food entrepreneurship, economic development, and space for the community to come together over food. New Venture Advisors is leading a study to design a regional food infrastructure strategy that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of the community. (2023)

Food Bank Council of Michigan Senior Food Access Pilot Program

Lansing, MI

Food Bank Council of Michigan (FBCM) is the partner state association for the seven Feeding America-affiliated food banks across the state of Michigan. The FBCM’s mission is to create a food secure state through advocacy, resource management, and collaboration among stakeholders and Michigan’s unified food bank network. The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated that many seniors experience barriers to food access because they have limited access to transportation or are located in remote areas. FBCM seeks to create a model whereby food can be home-delivered to Michigan residents regardless of their location through a food box program for seniors including fresh items and shelf-stable groceries. New Venture Advisors is assisting in designing a pilot program in southern Michigan to demonstrate the viability of this model, with food banks serving as distribution hubs and Door Dash Foundation providing the last-mile delivery partner. (2023)

NMU Food Hub Feasibility Study

Marquette, MI

The Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health and several project partners aspire to create a shared use aggregation, distribution, and light produce processing facility serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.). There is currently limited food system infrastructure in the U.P.; therefore, most food consumed in the region is dependent upon transport from Lower Michigan and Wisconsin. The facility would increase the resiliency of the U.P. food system and support the health and wellness of residents by increasing sales and accessibility of locally-grown and value-added foods, and decreasing costs to do so through charitable distribution networks. New Venture Advisors conducted an expanded feasibility study that explored whether a collaborative aggregation and distribution system network across the U.P. and a central warehouse facility could support solutions to existing system stressors and could be economically viable for the participating organizations. (2022)

McHenry County College Food Hub

Crystal Lake, IL

The Center for Agrarian Learning (CAL) at McHenry County College offers a non-credit community education in farm viability, an Entrepreneurial Agriculture degree program, and operates a greenhouse and farm as part of its programming. CAL has a vision for adding a food hub to aggregate products grown on campus and from area farms to create a year-round sales channel for local producers looking to increase production or venture into wholesale markets. The program will be one of the few campus-based food hubs in the U.S., training the next generation of food system professionals with real-world experience from production to wholesale, and potentially retail. New Venture Advisors conducted a feasibility study to determine how this college-based food hub can serve small-to medium sized producers in the region. (2022)

Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub Business Plan

Duffield, VA

In 2017, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) founded the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub (AHHH), a social enterprise that aims to create a thriving herbal economy in Central Appalachia, while conserving at-risk plants through profitable cultivation. The AHHH seeks to build a network of forest farmers and medicinal herb farmers, who can sustainably cultivate these botanicals to meet growing demand. New Venture Advisors assisted ASD in developing a financially viable business model for AHHH to reduce long-term dependencies on grant funding. (2022)

Bushel & Peck Food Hub Feasibility Study

Charles Town, WV

Jefferson G.A.P. Coalition launched Bushel & Peck in 2017 to provide better access to healthy foods for all people in Jefferson County, to boost the farm and food economy, and to drive downtown revitalization in historic Charles Town, West Virginia. The store is successful and sustainable with a solid customer base. It plays a critical role in supplying healthy foods to local families during the pandemic, and the Coalition sees the potential to reach an even larger customer base by expanding beyond its retail business into wholesale, serving institutional customers, restaurants and other grocery chains with fresh produce sourced from across the region. New Venture Advisors is exploring the viability of occupying vacant and under-utilized downtown buildings and lots to site food enterprises that may include indoor and outdoor food markets, community gardens, bulk food distribution, and a commercial kitchen, based on the needs identified and prioritized by the community. (2023)

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) 

Oahu Food Hub Expansion Planning

Honolulu, HI

The Oahu Food Hub is a multi-use facility serving entrepreneurs, agricultural producers and organizations in the good food space on the island of Oahu. This new development will house Oahu Fresh, a well-known local produce distributor, and several businesses in the Ke Nui Kitchen group including their rapidly-growing bagel brand and direct-to-consumer food box program. The facility will contain private and shared commercial kitchen spaces, dedicated storage, a local produce aggregation and distribution hub, and private and shared office, meeting, and related spaces. New Venture Advisors assisted the owners in developing operating model alternatives and designing a facility that meets their needs today and plans for future growth. (2021)

Worcester Regional Food Hub

Worcester, MA

The Worcester Regional Food Hub has been a collaborative effort between the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts (REC) and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, made possible by the generous support of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The food hub, piloted as a kitchen incubator and aggregation hub in 2016, sought to enhance the regional economy through improved producer and consumer networks, targeted workforce development programs, and business incubation. NVA assisted REC and its partners in assessing the market and developing a business plan for the hub’s next stage of growth. (2019)

Kane County Food Hub

Geneva, IL

Kane County Planning engaged New Venture Advisors to assist in the development of a food hub that serves Kane County residents as well as the greater Chicago foodshed. A feasibility study identified a multi-million dollar opportunity to aggregate from Kane County farmers and distribute to customers across the region. A unique business model ensured the hub’s products will reach Kane County low-income residents and institutions that serve these communities. An owner/operator was selected and the food hub piloted operations in 2018. New Venture Advisors developed a strategic plan and roadmap to guide the food hub’s first full year of operations. (2019)  Read the report here.

Central Appalachian Food Enterprise Corridor

Abingdon, VA

Appalachian Sustainable Development and ACENet are two of the longest standing and most established food hubs in the U.S. These pioneering organizations recognize that between them is a corridor of farms and food businesses across VA, WV, KY and OH that may all benefit from coordinated marketing, operations, logistics and transportation services. Through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the organizations have embarked on a joint planning effort to explore models that might enable them to operate more profitably in their rural settings. NVA assisted in this effort by highlighting examples of innovative, successful models that have been established worldwide in order to connect rural, dispersed agricultural producers to mainstream markets. (2018)

Northwest Kansas Food Hub

Bird City, KS

The Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation and Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, Inc. assessed the viability of a food hub to be located in Northwest Kansas. The project was instrumental in discerning whether a permanent food hub is a viable option for bringing more fresh produce to the Kansas market. The project team conducted this study on its own, using NVA’s Do-It-Yourself Feasibility Study Toolkit that features coaching from NVA through a 10-step work plan. (2018)

California Food Hub Network

Davis, CA

University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is a statewide program committed to strengthening California’s agriculture by advancing knowledge of the science of sustainability, supporting farmers and ranchers working to develop more sustainable agricultural practices, and assisting communities in building strong and healthy regional food systems. UC SAREP convenes a collaborative learning group of California food hubs which NVA assisted in evaluating potential network models. (2017)

Wyoming Statewide Food Hub Network


New Venture Advisors worked with Bould Development and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to assess the strategy and feasibility of a network of food hubs across the state of Wyoming. The study evaluated potential hubs in six distinct clusters across the state, and recommended how the hubs would transact with each other. (2016)

Western New York Food Hub

Eden, NY

New Venture Advisors conducted a Feasibility Study with Field & Fork Network and in partnership with Cornell University Cooperative Extension. The study recommended the launch of a Western New York Food Hub. New Venture Advisors worked with the project team on an operator search, and then developed the food hub business plan alongside the chosen operator, Eden Valley Growers, a longstanding farmer-owned cooperative in Eden, NY. The hub launched in 2015. (2015)

Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study

Madison, Wi

New Venture Advisors worked with Dane County Planning and Development Department to assess the size and viability of a local food hub. New Venture Advisors completed the Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study in 2011, recommending that the county move forward in the development of a food hub, based on high levels of demand and supply identified. The business was launched in 2013 as the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative. (2011)

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

The Whatcom County Food System Committee recently conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors will partner with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan will focus on six sectors of the food system including fishing, farming, labor, food access, environment, and waste, and will be informed by an inclusive and equitable 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. NVA developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)