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Community Partnership Prioritizes Local Food

https://foodconnects.org

KEENE, NH - Local food is a top priority in the partnership between the Monadnock Food Co-op and Food Connects. Over the past four years, the Monadnock Food Co-op has purchased over $191,000 in local food from Food Connects, a food hub serving southeast Vermont and southwest New Hampshire with local foods. The Co-op purchases from 32 of Food Connects over 60 producers. What does that mean for the two communities? Increased support for these local producers and community access to dozens of fresh, local products.

The staff at Food Connects understands that it isn’t always easy for consumers to access local food. Food Connects Food Hub aims to make it easier by offering a variety of locally sourced wholesale products, from multiple producers, all on one bill. Ordering and delivery are seamless, allowing for businesses like the Co-op to focus on what they do best—providing local food to the community.

Food Connects has worked with the Co-op since 2014, originally under the name Monadnock Menus. This partnership continues to enable Food Connects to grow in the Monadnock region, alongside other vital partners like Stonewall Farm and the Cheshire County Conservation District. The Co-op is an anchor point for Food Connects—providing a large base for customers, five different departments that purchase local foods, and continued collaboration for the growth of local food sales in the region. Food Connects has sold over $675k in local products to southwestern New Hampshire businesses and institutions since 2014, keeping all of those dollars within the community and with the help of the Co-op, they hope to increase that number significantly over the next few years.

“The co-op has been our anchor in New Hampshire since the beginning of Monadnock Menus,” said Alex McCullough, Food Connects Food Hub General Manager. “They have an incredible level of energy and passion for local food and for serving their local community. With their impending expansion, that excitement continues to grow. They’re constantly looking for the next new, exciting local product. For us, that’s a big deal. It means we can offer our producers a real opportunity to get their products in front of a huge number of shoppers.”

A locally focused food hub helps the Monadnock Food Co-op meet a number of its ends statements: strengthening a healthy, sustainable food system and supporting local farmers and producers.  Last year, the co-op reached over $5 million in local sales from 346 producers. The co-op looks forward to future growth, planning for an expansion project this fall.

“The greatest benefit of working with Food Connects is that it truly connects us to farmers we don’t have a direct relationship with and wouldn’t be able to deliver to us,” said Allen Raymond, Producer Manager at the Co-op. “Food Connects makes purchasing local products so simple and straightforward. It’s also nice only having one invoice rather than having multiple farmers with different invoices where it can be easier to misplace them. Having the online platform allows us to be much more efficient with our time and not have to chase down emails looking for product lists, case sizing, and pricing. All in all, working with Food Connects is a great resource for us and the team they have are amazing and make working with the company even easier.”

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Food Connects is an entrepreneurial non-profit that delivers locally produced food as well as educational and consulting services aimed at transforming local food systems. The Food Hub aggregates and delivers from over 45 local farms and food producers to over 100 buyers in southeast Vermont, southwest New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. Our educational services focus on a Farm to School Program. Acknowledged as a statewide leader, the program supports over 30 schools to increase local food purchasing, school meal participation, and food, farm, and nutrition education. Together these core programs contribute to a vibrant local economy by increasing local food purchases by schools and improving students’ nutrition and academic performance. Additionally, Food Connects is frequently hired to provide leadership and consulting services for efforts aimed at transforming local food systems in the New England region.

The Monadnock Food Co-op is a full-service, community-owned grocery store in downtown Keene, NH, featuring locally grown, organic and natural food.  The co-op is located at 34 Cypress Street in Keene, right off of Main Street via Eagle Court: monadnockfood.coop.