For the past ten years, the Northwest Agriculture Business Center spearheaded development of the Puget Sound Food Hub (PSFH). The farmer-owned cooperative hub is now regarded as “the” model for NW Washington food hub projects that have taken on a new importance.
“The recent COVID-19 pandemic created challenges at every level of society, including our farm community,” said David Bauermeister, NABC Executive Director. “In response, NABC immediately ramped up efforts to help farmers get their products to market, and pivoted our resources towards accelerated development of alternate sales channels similar to PSFH.”
NABC is helping to rapidly launch four new food hubs in the San Juan Islands, on Whidbey Island, in Snohomish County and in southwest Washington. NABC had played a supportive role developing these new aggregation and distribution sites in anticipation of near-term start dates. The size and scope of the work is limited by staff and project resources. Additional resources will increase NABC impact.
“We no longer have the luxury to wait. The current health crisis revealed the vulnerability of our national food system,” said Bauermeister. “Because of the current health crisis, NABC’s mission to support access to local food and support local farms took on a new urgency.”
The overwhelming demands of supporting one established but expanding food hub, while briskly developing four more, and at the same time providing ancillary services such as counseling farmers and small business owners daily as they navigate various relief programs during this unprecedented emergency, is putting a considerable strain on NABC’s resources.
NABC set up fundraising campaigns to support these efforts, including several through GiveBIG, a local nonprofit that will host a larger statewide campaign on May 5-6. NABC’s profile is live and will be open to collect donations through “Giving Tuesday” on May 6 at https://www.givebigwa.org/nonprofits?keyword=nabc. Donations will be accepted through May 15.
A new campaign on NABC’s website will also funnel support to NABC and food hubs, as well as food banks, through October 2020. Donors have the option to direct 80% of their gift to the NABC-assisted food hub project of their choice, issuing credit towards purchasing fresh food through that hub to a local food bank. https://www.agbizcenter.org/who-we-are/sponsor-nabc