The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s food hub, housed in its Rabun County facility, will be the first in the country to leverage a regional food bank’s supply chain to help farmers aggregate and preserve their produce. In partnership with UGA Cooperative Extension, the organizations will join forces to increase access to local food and local jobs.
UGA Extension will provide food hub farmers with the business and technical training needed to make the most of the new distribution system.
The project will help small and beginning farmers meet the growing demand for local produce and access to flash-freezing equipment. The frozen food line not only will allow farmers to sell their produce year-round, but it also will supply the food bank’s clients with more locally sourced vegetables.
The training program and logistics services will be available to farmers this growing season. The flash-freezing system should be available in late fall.
If the partnership between the food bank and UGA is successful, the Food Hub of Northeast Georgia could become a national model for food hubs.
The food bank, which collects and distributes food over a 14-county area in northeast Georgia, will use a network of trucks, truck drivers and warehouses to support the regional food hub.
Together with farm business training programs offered through UGA Extension, the food hub project and the frozen food equipment will allow farmers to expand their operations, making family farms economically profitable.