Coastal Foodshed (CFS), a nonprofit based in New Bedford (Bristol County), will receive business assistance with help from the Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP) to start a regional food hub in Southeastern Massachusetts with the support of the Southeastern MA Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP). SEMAP is an organization dedicated to preserving and expanding access to local food and sustainable farming in Southeastern Massachusetts. Through research, education, and programming, SEMAP provides resources for local consumers and farmers on how to access, grow, and afford local, healthy food year-round.
Since 2017, CFS’s mission has been to strengthen the Southcoast’s local food economy by making it easier for growers to sell, and consumers to buy, healthy, affordable, and local foods and increase public awareness and knowledge around nutrition, health and local agriculture. CFS and SEMAP plan to survey local growers, producers, and other partners who have access to, and an interest in, wholesaling and producing value-added products for the Southeast food economy. Through this study, CFS would be able to identify key stakeholders in their community who would be part of creating the ecosystem for a food hub which their region desperately needs and the best model for the region. CFS understands its community’s needs and believes a food hub could “allow small/mid-sized businesses like farmers to grow more food and expand their operations, while focusing less on distribution and marketing.”
Under the leadership of co-directors Kim Ferreira and Stephanie Perks, both registered dietitians with a combined sixteen years working in the food access field, the vision is to establish a Southeastern MA Regional Food Hub model that could house a year-round farmers market-style retail space, a commercial kitchen, a product aggregation center and technical services for local food producers. CFS also wants to connect local producers to the larger retail community in order to impact as many people as possible in the region. Kim Ferreira remarked, “We are so excited to receive funding and assistance from the MFTP. Discussions around a food hub have been happening for years now so this is a perfect opportunity to get the process going and work collectively as a region to find the best model for a successful food hub in Southeastern MA.”
The MFTP is inspired by Coastal Foodshed’s commitment to addressing its community’s needs and is grateful it can provide aid for their study with SEMAP. We look forward to sharing the results of this project and are confident that it will be used to soon provide more fresh and local food to Southeastern MA in the coming months.
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