Education & Training for Food Hubs

USDA Guides to Running Food Hubs

“Here at USDA we are looking for ways that we can help build and strengthen regional and local food systems. As we talk to farmers, producers, consumers, processors, retailers, buyers and everyone else involved in regional food system development, we hear more and more about small and mid-sized farmers struggling to get their products to market quickly and efficiently. And more and more we hear that these same producers need access to things like trucks, warehouses, processing space, and storage. These things require capital investment, infrastructure maintenance and dedicated oversight – things that small and mid-sized producers often can’t afford or manage themselves.

One answer to help regional producers may be a ”food hub.”

Our working definition of a food hub is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” By actively coordinating these activities along the value chain, food hubs are providing wider access to institutional and retail markets for small to mid-sized producers, and increasing access of fresh healthy food for consumers, including underserved areas and food deserts.”

-Jim Barham, Food Hub Team Leader, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service in Food and Nutrition Farming, Feb 21, 2017

Value-Chain Coordination, Resources Collection

“Physical infrastructure like warehouses and trucks are essential to regional food economies. But they also require coordination – people and organizations who make fruitful connections between businesses and organizations in the supply chain; who pilot new ideas; who make the political and business ground fertile for success. Value Chain Coordination is the development of soft infrastructure, like relationships, networks and information-sharing channels, that creates thriving and sustainable regional food economies. Below you’ll find resources and tools to help you refine your skills as a connector in your regional food system. ”

Access the resources collection and discussion group here.

Fundamentals of Value Chain Coordination Course

“Value Chain Coordination (VCC) is essential to building resilient and equitable local and regional food systems. VCC practitioners are shifting power to create food systems that foster interdependence, transparency, and community agency. Though the work of value chain coordination has been taking place in some shape or form for centuries, efforts to understand and build the diverse skills, strategies, and impacts of VCC are relatively recent. The Wallace Center has created this course to help the people doing the work of value chain coordination gain language, skills, tools, frameworks, and relationships that will help support their work.”

Access the course here

We recommend that food hubs provide annual training to vendors as well as staff and volunteers when applicable. Participants will review existing food hub procedures and make process improvements. Consistent reflection and review allow the food hub to adapt to its community’s and vendors’ needs. Training can be live and in-person when appropriate for schedules and budgets. It can also be recorded and posted to a website or shared drive so that those who are unable to attend can review the materials and reference them throughout the year. Training should include topics such as food safety, labeling, and food-hub-specific policies and procedures (more detail in relevant sections of this manual).

Ideally, the food hub manager can assist vendors in accessing training that is applicable for their operation. They can also connect vendors and staff to state and other partner organizations that offer additional training. Food hub managers should maintain relationships with the State and universities and remain up-to-date on educational opportunities. They also can invite these agencies to the food hub training to give specific guidance on topics that need to be reviewed, reinforced, or improved.

Additionally, educational efforts should continue beyond the food hub and into the community. Food hubs connect consumers and vendors through information-sharing, so food hubs should reinforce the economic value of buying local food for communities. Food safety information can be provided as well, such as the State of Alaska DEC’s temperature controls reference page. Some food hubs have the capacity to educate their communities about local food preparation, and this is also a valuable educational resource. Sharing ways to make safe, economical, and delicious meal from local food is a valuable community service. The following is a list of trainings to consider both when setting up your food hub’s training and to supplement existing food hub training.

For farmers and growers:
For processors:  
For Food Hub staff and volunteers:
For Consumers:
  • Food hubs can provide recipes and even events such as cooking classes. Qik’rtaq Food Hub in Kodiak has a recipe page, for example.
  • The CES has numerous publications on food preparation at

Timely information, tips, and templates to build your market organization