Food Connects is set to begin construction of their 1,200 square-foot cooler and freezer space in mid-August. The expanded operational space triples the available volume of cold and frozen storage space available to Food Connects to aggregate and distribute local foods.
In November of 2018, Food Connects moved to their new facility at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s (BDCC) Business Park. This large space offers many benefits—access to a loading dock for their fleet, increased office and storage space, and most importantly, room to move and store more food. The latter is essential to Food Connects’ future as they work toward building more market opportunities for local producers of refrigerated, frozen, and shelf-stable foods.
Food Connects’ new cooler and freezer will allow them to offer their wholesale customers—including schools, hospitals, independent groceries, and business food programs—more options for using local products in place of commodity foods. This increase in capacity, along with an addition to their vehicle fleet, will allow them to build market channels for more producers and consumers in the Upper Valley, Western Vermont, and Western Massachusetts regions. Currently, Food Connects primarily serves customers in the Windham County and Monadnock Region areas.
“Operational efficiencies will dramatically increase with our loading docks, offices, and storage space all under one roof—increasing ease of access for drop-offs and pick-ups,” says Alex McCullough, Food Hub Manager. “We are excited about what this new space will mean for our local producers.”
The project is projected to cost $200,000 in total. Food Connects secured $150,000 in grant funding from High Meadows Fund, Sandy River Charitable Foundation, and the You Have Our Trust Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. These grants provide partial funding for the layout design and construction of the cooler space by ARC Mechanical. With $50,000 left to reach their goal, Food Connects now looks towards the community to help fund the remainder.
“We are so grateful for the support from our grant funders,” says Richard Berkfield, Executive Director. “We now need the community’s help to reach our goal. Supporting our cooler expansion is supporting the growth of local food producers and our local food economy.”
If you would like to know more about the Cooler Campaign, please be sure to check out expansion page at https://www.foodconnects.org/were-expanding. All donations to the Cooler Campaign are tax-deductible.
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 60 local farms and food producers to over 120 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.