USDA defines a food hub as, “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” Food hubs provide important services for small and mid-sized farmers by marketing local products, brokering volume sales, coordinating distribution logistics, and helping producers meet industry requirements in areas such as food safety and packaging.
Iowa Food Hub Directory. Find a food hub in your area, and see what types of products and services it offers.
Iowa Food Hub Managers Working Group. This community of practice was begun in the summer of 2015, and meets quarterly to address operating challenges and needs for food hub businesses in Iowa. Together, group members are exploring how they can work together to improve their technical knowledge of aggregation and distribution systems, source more local products, leverage funding, build partnerships, and grow opportunities for farmers. For information or to get on the group’s email list, contact Jason Grimm, working group coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kayla Koether, FFED working group liaison, at email@example.com.
Iowa Food Hub: Managing Cash Flow for a Low-Capital Food Hub Start-up. (ISU Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center) For food hubs, or businesses that aggregate and distribute local food, limited funds can be a barrier to growth. If food hub managers pay close attention to cash flow, however, they can grow their business using the income generated by the business itself, and reduce the need for grants or loans in the start-up phase. This publication explains the idea of cash flow and how food hub managers can use it to their advantage, drawing on the real-world experiences of Iowa Food Hub. Watch a webinar about the resource at this link.
Using Accounting Software for Food Hubs: Processing Traceable Orders. (ISU Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center) Based on an actual Iowa food hub, this tutorial takes a step by step approach, guiding users to expand their use of QuickBooks to improve product traceability, accounting, basic inventory management and recordkeeping. Using QuickBooks in combination with Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and a few other low cost tools can provide an effective, low cost solution for data management.
Local Food System Toolkit 1: Developing a Worksite Food Box Program. (Iowa Food Hub, ISU Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center). This is a guide for creating a program for pre-packed food boxes delivered weekly and picked up by employees at their workplaces. It is marketed to employers, such as businesses, universities and hospitals who want locally grown food more accessible for their employees. This was a collaboration with the Iowa Food Hub and ISU Extension and Outreach. Watch the webinar here.
Production Planning for Aggregators. (ISU Extension and Outreach and the Leopold Center) This 21-page guide is designed for aggregators — businesses and organizations that create a single sales outlet through which large-volume buyers can purchase products from several local farmers. This fact sheet reviews the basics of coordinated production planning, explains how aggregators operate, and suggests things to consider when getting started. Examples from other aggregators are included.
Kayla Koether, FFED
Teresa Wiemerslage, field specialist, northeast Iowa
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