USDA Food Hubs

SE-Food-Hub-InfographicBy: Nikki Nies

As the name implies, Food Hubs, work to bring together food collections.  Food hubs help identify and profile food collections across the country.  They  help one understand the role and impact of the U.S. food system as well as the potential challenges and/or barriers that may occur.

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.

Foods hubs can focus on the supply side, including the support and training of sustainable production practices, production planning, packaging, certification, food safety, etc. All of these initiatives enable producers to access wholesale consumers (i.e. for retail stores or foodservice institutions). On the other end of the spectrum, the demand side of food hubs focus on coordinating efforts with wholesale buyers, processors, distributors and consumers to make sure they can meet the market’s demand for source identified, locally, regionally or location specific grown products. While food hubs can have a primary focus, either supply or demand, the business management’s primary focus is to coordinate supply chain logistics. map

Classification of food hubs is based on either structure or function.  Structural classification includes nonprofit organizations, privately held food hubs, cooperatives and/or publically held food hubs.  The legal structure of the food hub often times affects its operation and function.  Functional food hubs can be classified into three categories: farm to business/institution model, farm to consumer model or hybrid model, depending on the primary market they serve.

1) Farm to business/Institution model: Food hubs sell to wholesale market buyers (i.e. grocery stores, institutional foodservice companies, restaurants, food cooperatives, etc.); provide new wholesale market outlets for local growers that would be harder for them to access individually

2) Farm to consumer model: food hub’s responsible for marketing, aggregating, packaging and distributing to consumers directly; i.e. food delivery companies, mobile markets, community supported agriculture, online buying cubs

3) Hybrid model: food hubs sell to wholesale market buyers and to consumers directly

If you’re still with me, first of all, thanks! I also want to make sure why it’s important you recognize the different food hubs and why it’s worth learning more about.  Since many farmers are limited due to the lack of distribution and processing of products which would give them greater access to retail, institutional and commercial foodservice markets, food hubs has bridged that gap! Food hubs are a great way to combine production, distribution and marketing services that allows farmers and producers to “get in the mix.”  Furthermore, food hubs are filling a market niche and demonstrating innovative business models that be make a difference in local and regional communities.

No matter where you live, your food hub impacts your access to food.  Whereever you work, the distribution of food is affected by your business’ needs.  What personal stories do you have regarding the access and/or supply of foods in your area?

Photo Credit:Australian Food Hubs Network and World Food Day USA 


Bear With Me

By: Nikki NIes

I feel I’ve officially started my dietetic internship here in I today. Today I started my first rotation, foodservice.  In one day I’ve learned a lot about managing people and the implementation Sodexo’s foodservice program and it’s only been one day!

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, I thank you for your interest and continued support.  Over the last few months, I’ve made it a point to write a post daily.  Not only has this blog enabled me to interact and connect with people, but has held me accountable to stay relevant on nutrition topics and information.

Tomorrow’s my second day at rotation along with 2 new graduate courses.  Benedictine University’s nutrition graduate program is on a quarter system, so every 6 weeks, I’ll be getting 2 new graduate courses on top of rotations.

I’m excited to get into the meat of the internship.  This is why I moved here anyways.  During these next few months, please bear with me as I adjust.  I really have enjoyed writing on this blog and will make every effort to post on a regular basis.

Of course, there’s an app for that!

By: Nikki Nies

Original Image by PhotoAtelier via Flickr
Original Image by PhotoAtelier via Flickr

Last semester, a friend of mine shared with me that there’s a dietitian quiz app.  My answer, was duh, “there’s an app for that.”

After scrolling through her iPhone, I quickly downloaded the app to my phone.

There are tons of apps for eating healthy, documenting one’s eating habits, but this app is geared toward aspiring dietitians and nutrition majors.  Although, a little pricey, at  $4.99, this app is a lifesaver.  One can customize how they want to study with the four offered modes—study mode, resume last test, review test performance and test mode.

One can take practice tests and pretests and look over incorrect answers.  It covers everything one needs to know—foodservice, management, nutrition care and nutrition science.  Maximize your time waiting on line, waiting for the water to boil or just because you need more nutrition confidence, buy the app now! also posts some other suggested apps—check them out. What’s your favorite healthy app?

What Jamie’s Taught Us…

Original Image by Nick Bramhall via Flickr
Original Image by Nick Bramhall via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

You know how people say, “the British always say it cooler?”  I’m not going to lie, Jamie Oliver’s English accent was the first thing to catch my attention.  Although, Jamie Oliver’s British, he has been an advocate for healthy eating.  Why are chefs getting through to the children and adults, but dietitians are on the sidelines?  The nutrition world just isn’t loud enough.

We’ve made a lot of strides within the last decade–MyPlate and the new school lunch program, but we could certainly learn a lot more from our fellow cooks and louder advocators.

Mr. Oliver’s programs received rave reviews.  However, how many people OUTSIDE of the food world have seen it? Am I too critical?  Am I too persistent?  No, I just am saying what others are thinking.  I don’t mind Mr. Oliver being the “face” of change, but as dietetic students we need to expand our promotion and advertisement beyond the nutrition world.  Lecture style teaching isn’t as effective as seeing the real deal.  We need to have more hands on learning, with tours of dairy farms and showing how meals are REALLY prepared–from schools to foodservice alike.  The more exposure and information we have to what is being put into our mouths, the better we can plan our next move.

I suggest we get back to basics.  A lot of people don’t know sugar is a carbohydrate, or where eggs should be categorized on MyPlate.  Is it a protein? Part of dairy?  I challenge everyone to share their nutrition knowledge with someone they don’t know.  Just see what happens :D.