Building Resilience in Nonprofit Food Hubs

  • Jacqueline R. LeBlanc University of Vermont
  • David Conner University of Vermont
  • Glenn McRae University of Vermont
  • Heather Darby University of Vermont
Keywords: Aggregation, Alternative Food Networks, Distribution, Food Hubs, Food Systems, Local Food, Nonprofit, Value Chains, Vermont

Abstract

Food hubs serve as intermediaries between market actors in the aggregation and distribution of local food. Scholars have identified four common food hub models: retail-driven, nonprofit-driven, producer-driven, and consumer-driven. The nonprofit sector has played a prominent role in emerging alternative food networks such as food hubs. This research uses qualitative methods to analyze the development of nonprofit food hubs in Vermont, as well as potential challenges faced and opportunities gained by this model.    

The results suggest that nonprofit food hubs in Vermont can foster the awareness and education necessary to create and expand a thriving community food system, allowing multiple actors to participate at multiple levels. In this way, nonprofit food hubs provide a vehicle for cooperation between farmers and consumers. The most successful food hubs are those that develop within existing organizations; through the multifunctionality of the organization, the food hub can help educate consumers and producers and foster relationships that can lead to an increase in a local food system's capacity. Analysis reveals that although nonprofit food hubs offer the potential to positively impact local food systems, there are key areas of perceived vulnerability that threaten the overall resilience of this model. Recommended interventions for building resilience in nonprofit food hubs include technical assistance, market analysis, and business planning to foster financially stable nonprofit food hubs with sustainable program models and business structures.

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Author Biographies

Jacqueline R. LeBlanc, University of Vermont
MS, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont. Burlington, Vermont 05402 USA. Jacqueline works for both Yellow Wood Associates, Inc., a rural community economic development consulting firm based in Vermont, and Feast Down East, a nonprofit food hub in Wilmington, North Carolina.
David Conner, University of Vermont
PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont.
Glenn McRae, University of Vermont
PhD, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont.
Heather Darby, University of Vermont
PhD, Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont.
Published
2014-05-17
How to Cite
LeBlanc, J. R., Conner, D., McRae, G., & Darby, H. (2014). Building Resilience in Nonprofit Food Hubs. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(3), 121–135. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2014.043.005
Section
Cooperatives and Alternative Initiative Call Papers