How did local food producers in the Pacific Northwest get their fruits and veggies into 151 school districts across the state of Montana?
Breaking into large volume sales channels such as school districts remains a challenge for small food producers. Once emerging response to this challenge is the formation of Food Hub Networks. In this model, a group of food hubs partner together to expand opportunities for local food.
In 2021, three food hubs in the Pacific Northwest decided to do just that. Now, just one year into its journey, The Northwest Food Hub Network has seen $1 million in new sales to institutional buyers.
To see the mission of the Northwest Food Hub Network in action, look no further than Montana school lunch trays. In 2022, school districts across the state began serving “Montana Marinara,” a red sauce that combines USDA canned tomatoes with onions, carrots, butternut squash, and safflower oil sourced via the Network.