Boosting local economies
Farming is a difficult business. Michigan lost 500 farms in 2021 alone. Our goal is to keep farmers farming, and help new farmers enter the field. By 2024, we expect to facilitate US$1.5 million in gross annual sales. Local sales keep money in local hands and mean more jobs and more tax dollars for our cities.
Building food production skills
ValleyHUB is unique in being housed within a community college. This allows us to focus on providing educational opportunities for professionals, job-seekers, and everyone else. Building skills in food production can lower grocery bills and keep families well-nourished. Gardening also builds children’s overall life skills and strengthens a sense of community. Plus, research shows that growing food makes us happier!
Addressing food insecurity
In Kalamazoo County alone, 38,000 residents are food insecure. Elsewhere in Southwest Michigan, St. Joseph, Berrien, and Calhoun counties are among the state’s 50 most food insecure. ValleyHUB works with our partners to provide fresh food to food insecure community members and college students at KVCC. We also support schools and early childhood development centers by providing access to purchase fresh local food. This opens up opportunities to improve nutrition and help children learn life-long lessons about food.
A recent study finds that we need to make major changes in agriculture to adapt to the climate crisis. Food hubs around the nation, including ValleyHUB, are supporting shifts to sustainable production practices, healthier local diets, and the reduction of food waste. At the same time, climate change threatens our food supply. Food hubs help make our food supply chains more diversified and ensure we have what we need in our communities when disaster strikes.
In 2020, Black and Hispanic households were twice as likely to experience food insecurity than other households. Indigenous populations, female-headed households, people who identify as LGBTQI+, and seniors all face disproportionate levels of hunger.
Strengthening local food systems can help support global efforts to foster food justice. Local food systems can help give the community members who are most impacted the power to determine what they grow and eat and help address deep-seated inequalities that keep people hungry.
Around the world, many of the people who pick, process, or grow food go hungry. From farms to slaughterhouses to fast food restaurants, laborers may live in poverty and work in unsafe conditions.
There are many efforts around the world to provide safe working conditions and fair wages to workers, such as fair trade certification programs. By investing in local agribusinesses, food hubs invest in transparent production practices and create more opportunities to put workers in ownership positions of small and medium enterprises.