by Sally Miller
In the last few weeks, the Co-op leads have formulated their RFPs, consulting their Boards, staff and relevant stakeholders. Two of these have now been posted and the other two will follow soon. Sally ”met” by phone individually with each lead, and was able to join Hannah in a visit to On The Move Organics in London at the Co-op’s new Root Cellar Cafe for an evening of worker co-op learning and discussion around the excellent documentary “Shift Change.” Hannah and Sally also had a chance to tour the Lucknow produce auction and associated enterprises in this thriving Mennonite community. The experience showed the potential for an integrated local food system built around a strong, locally owned food hub.
Co-ops Sharing with Co-ops (Principle #6)
The Food Hub project is working with the Ontario Co-op Association, which is preparing for regional co-op roundtables and conferences to take place within the next year. We have agreed to provide education at the conferences as needed, and to combine our forums where possible. OnCo-op is interested in sourcing food from the Local Organic Food Co-op Network member for these events whenever possible. LOFC is sending notice of the events once dates are confirmed, but they will also be available on OnCo-op’s website. Templates and materials are also being assembled to share through our website and will be cross-linked to OnCo-op.
Fodder for thought about food hubs
According to the USDA, “A regional food hub is 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.” (from the Regional Food Hub Resource Guide). They argue that the difference between a regional food hub and a conventional distributor is the attention to triple bottom line accounting (social, environmental and economic impacts).
The National Food Hub Collaboration in the U.S. identified 168 food hubs in 2011, with 21% co-operatively structured. One food hub network is based at Michigan State University [LINK http://foodsystems.msu.edu/activity/info/michigan_food_hub_learning_and_innovation_network, but our Ontario Food Hub network is one of the first!