Muskegon Food Hub Operation Study: Growing the Regional Food System and Increasing Healthy Food Acce

07/21/2015

Food hubs bring growers and buyers together while maintaining the food value chain. Photo courtesy of Gary Howe.  (view larger image)

Food hubs bring growers and buyers together while maintaining the food value chain. Photo courtesy of Gary Howe.

By: Community Foundation for Muskegon County

Muskegon, MI -  A new study looking at ways to grow Muskegon and the west Michigan lakeshore regional food system has offered recommendations for a food hub with identified core functions; aggregation, distribution, processing, marketing, and retail selling, to help support the growing demand for more healthy foods in the community. Food hubs bring growers and buyers together in ways that maintain the food value chain from farm to customer and can increase the amount of healthy food in communities that lack grocery stores. This emerging system for local foods can consist of space for retail vending, processing, and equipment; and warehousing, packaging, and transportation distribution facilities, among other services.

“This study confirms there is a great upside to locating a food hub in the downtown Muskegon community to expand economic development and to increase everyone’s access to healthy food,” said Chris McGuigan, president of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.

Recommendations include supporting the efforts begun by the Muskegon Farmers Market and recently opened Kitchen 242, sourcing local products from up to 3,600 farmers in the four county region of Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Ottawa Counties, supplying area schools, restaurants, and grocery stores, and partnering with local and regional food access organizations to distribute more healthy food into low-income communities.

“The recommendations also call for locating the food hub in downtown Muskegon for more efficient transportation logistics with close proximity to major highways, rail, ship and the nearby airport,” said Dennis Marvin, community engagement manager for Consumers Energy.

Michigan is poised for expansion of the local foods industry supported by thousands of farmers, a statewide Michigan Food Hub Network and Farm to Institution Network convened by MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and consumers and buyers that are interested in purchasing more local foods. The emerging Muskegon Food Hub will collaborate with other successful food hubs already in existence around the state.

This study was conducted by Marty Gerencer, principal, Morse Marketing Connections, and Evan Smith, Cherry Capital Foods, guided by a community advisory council and a host of local, state and national local foods experts. The project was funded by Consumers Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and administered by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. The full study is available on the Foundation’s website, www.cffmc.org/learn/healthy-muskegon.