WVPA Sharing

$3,500 ‘Food Hub’ grants aid locally grown product accessibility

April 14 deadline set for informational meeting on grant applications

MOUNT HOPE, W.Va. — Residents, restaurants and farmers got good news recently with the announcement of $3,500 grants to develop “food hubs” around West Virginia, making it easier to get fresh locally grown products on the table.

The program assists organizations and individuals with developing and operating local food sales locations.

‘As single points of sale for multiple local products, food hubs are an important part of a strong local food economy because they allow large purchasers such as restaurants or institutions to get all their local food through one entity, said a spokesperson for the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, which announced the availability of grant funding – up to $,3500 – for organizations and individuals wanting to aggregate local food. The grants are available statewide and the complete RFP can be found at http://goo.gl/LC4tA2.

Grant applications are due May 8, with grants being awarded by May 31. Examples of how funding can be used include business coaching, addition of staff, equipment, marketing, implementing business or logistics plans, or other tactics to become more financially sustainable. Organizers said the grant funds aren’t the only benefit of the project.

“There’s also strong support from both agricultural and business service providers,” said Elizabeth Spellman, executive director of the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition. “By the end of the year, grantees will have received business and production planning and will have authored a business plan. We think the support offered in terms of ideas and planning is just as valuable as the funding. We’ll be connecting fledgling West Virginia Food Hubs with the resources available within our network”

To help with the application process, the coalition will host a day-long meeting in Philippi on April 22. To register, visit http://goo.gl/CPekKy and confirm attendance by April 14.

“People have some great ideas about West Virginia Food Hubs, and we think that they can get even better by talking with people in other parts of the state who have similar projects,” said Spellman.

The grants follow a series of Food Hub workshops at the 2015 Small Farm Conference, which highlighted the potential for growth in the sector and brought together partners from within West Virginia and beyond, including The Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Panorama At The Peak Farm to Table Restaurant, Downstream Strategies, The Robert C Byrd Institute for Agricultural Innovation, The Wild Ramp, The West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition, and The West Virginia Department of Agriculture. A report from the conference that contains presentation materials is available to the public at http://goo.gl/ux5Vcg.

More information about the grant, including the full application, is available at http://goo.gl/LC4tA2. Questions can be directed to Megan Smith at [email protected], by calling the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition office at 304-877-7920, or visiting them on the web at www.wvfoodandfarm.org.

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