Capital in context
Funding U.S. Inland Northwest food hub development before and during COVID-19
Keywords:Food Systems, Local, COVID-19, Pandemic, Food Security, Social Entrepreneurship, Community, Rural, Grants, Paycheck Protection Program, PPP, Farmers to Families Food Box Program
This study focuses on how 10 food hubs in the U.S. Inland Northwest resourced their start-up and development before and during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Case studies include cooperative, government agency, nonprofit, and family-owned food hubs. Because of the prominence of nonmonetary values as drivers in food hub development, we used a social entrepreneurship framework to understand how people, context, and a social value proposition affected access to and use of capital resources. We found that each food hub had a unique mix of capital sources and profitability that reflected and shaped who was involved, their mission, and their available resources. All operating food hubs that we studied strengthened and grew their business during the first year of the pandemic. Two federal COVID-19-related programs—the Paycheck Protection Program and the Farmers to Families Food Box Program—played brief but instrumental roles in helping most organizations early in the pandemic, enabling several to pivot from heavily impacted markets (such as restaurants and educational institutions) to direct-to-consumer markets and food security efforts. For several, panic buying early in the crisis followed by a consistent large increase in demand fueled organizational growth. The food hubs adapted quickly, with some significantly changing their business model and expected trajectory as they weathered the first year of the pandemic, coming out stronger than before.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Darin A. Saul, Soren M. Newman, Christy Dearien
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