ACEDC Awarded $50,000 USDA Grant for ACORN Food Hub Feasibility Study
MIDDLEBURY, VT - The Addison County Economic Development Corporation has been awarded a $50,000 grant from USDA/Rural Development to undertake a study regarding the feasibility of expanding the ACORN Food Hub and adding a Commercial Community Kitchen to support the sale and distribution of local foods and increase local food access in the Champlain Valley region.
The goal of an expanded Champlain Valley Food Hub is to maximize the volume of local food Champlain Valley wholesale buyers are sourcing and to increase access to markets for Champlain Valley growers and food producers. If found feasible, a fully built out Food Hub could include:
- Additional aggregation of larger volumes of local products.
- Additional dry, cold, and frozen storage and transportation options.
- Distribution systems, including online availability and in-person aggregated CSAs.
- Distribution to markets around the state as well as outside Vermont.
- Increased distribution to school districts to scale up farm-to-school procurement.
- Increased distribution to institutions (hospital, college) to increase local food purchasing.
- Increased food security programs modeled on CVOEO’s Pantry Soft, NOFA-VT’s Farm Shares, The Giving Fridge, Everyone Eats and ACORN’s Farmacy Food is Medicine.
- A Community Commercial Kitchen facility available to multiple groups, particularly the immigrant community, farmers, food producers, and individuals.
- Community space for classes, workshops, meetups, meals, and other multi-cultural gatherings for producers and food education for consumers.
- Office space for Food Hub staff and other partners as needed.
- Space for a community garden/orchard and/or a place to showcase new regenerative agricultural growing techniques for educational purposes.
Over the course of a year, the feasibility study will explore the economic, market, technical, financial, and management feasibility of scaling the existing Food Hub, informing the next stages of planning and development. An expanded Food Hub aligns with rural economic development goals in Addison County, as expressed in the Addison County Regional Plan and the West Central Vermont Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).
“We are thrilled to have received this award which enables us to dream up and analyze the next iteration of the ACORN Food Hub with a community kitchen alongside our partners at Addison Allies,” stated Lindsey Berk, ACORN’s Executive Director. “This project has the potential of serving a vast array of community members while celebrating the land, the folks who work the land, and those who feed our communities.”
“Addison Allies views the expansion of the Food Hub and the addition of a commercial community kitchen in Addison County as an essential step in providing opportunities for new Americans who operate catering and other food related businesses to develop and expand their businesses,” added Veronica Ciambra, Director of Addison Allies. “We want to help create a space where immigrants and migrant workers will feel welcome and where they can access local foods and culturally appropriate foods.”
“ACORN’s Food Hub is a long-time partner for the region’s food producers, farm to school networks, and agricultural economy,” said Sarah Waring, USDA/RD Vermont and NH Director. “With this investment, we can explore the feasibility for a food hub, which could link-up farmers and consumers, through various functions – like aggregation, distribution and marketing. Creating opportunities to bring our farmers to more and better markets is one of the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration, and I’m proud that USDA Rural Development can be a part of that work in the Champlain Valley.”
About Addison County Economic Development Corporation
The Addison County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) is dedicated to helping businesses in all stages of growth retain and create good-paying jobs in Addison County. Organized to promote the common business and economic interests of commercial enterprises in Addison County, ACEDC strives to create an entrepreneurial and innovative environment that nurtures businesses to launch, grow, and thrive. For more information on Addison County Economic Development Corporation visit: www.addisoncountyedc.org
ACORN’s mission is to promote the growth and health of local food and agriculture in Vermont’s Champlain Valley by providing support to our farmers and food producers, engaging in food education, and ensuring access to healthy food for all members of our community. ACORN is a community-based organization working to reinvest in our local economy, revitalize our local food systems and reconnect our regional community. For more information, go to www.acornvt.org
About Addison Allies
Addison Allies supports and serves migrant farm workers living and working in Addison County. A volunteer organization, we assist farm workers and other marginalized immigrants with English language learning, provide rides to medical and dental appointments, and provide access to goods, services, and opportunities available in the county but generally unavailable due to language, cultural and other systemic barriers. Click here for more information.
About USDA/Rural Development
USDA/Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports housing, infrastructure improvements, business development, high-speed internet access, and community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care. For more information on Rural Development visit www.rd.usda.gov/vt
ACEDC activities are made possible, in part, by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Loan programs are made possible by USDA/Rural Development. ACEDC is an equal opportunity service provider and lender, with all services and funds available on a non discriminatory basis.