Posted January 26, 2023 at 03:29pm by Kristen Thompson
FOOD CONNECTS IS CELEBRATING 10 YEARS!
Food Connects is celebrating ten years of Healthy Families, Thriving Farms, and Connected Communities!
BRATTLEBORO, VT, January 19, 2023
In 2023, Food Connects is celebrating ten years of serving families, farms, and communities in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Food Connects evolved from a Food Hub—a growing regional food distribution operation—and a Farm to School program that were under the umbrellas of several other organizations. Since then, they have grown into a single non-profit, buying from over 125 local and regional farmers and food producers and distributing food to over 280 wholesale customers, including schools, co-ops, hospitals, and farm stands across Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Executive Director Richard Berkfield explained, “Food Connects started as a response to the community’s need for education about and access to fresh, nutrient-dense foods. A decade later, Food Connects' rapid growth proves how critical that need was and continues to be.”
Food Connects' Farm to School program's early efforts focused on developing Annual Farm to School Conference Professional Development Courses in partnership with Vermont FEED. Eventually, the program developed a Farm to School business model in which member schools contract with Food Connects to plan and implement Farm to School activities, including supporting school gardens, working with school meal programs, and integrated curriculum development. Its Farm to School program has now grown to support over 30 schools in our region.
The Food Connects Food Hub began in 2008 as Windham Farm and Food (WFF). It was piloted by Hans Estrin and Harlow Farm and coordinated with assistance from UVM Extension. Area non-profit Post Oil Solutions also supported WFF's launch as a mission-driven LLC in 2013. Eventually, WFF merged with Food Connects to turn the Food Hub into one of our core programs. In 2022, the Food Hub bought almost $1.5 million worth of local and regional food that was then sold and delivered to various wholesale customers across Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Board President, Paul Renouf, explained why he chose to get involved with Food Connects, “I first heard about Food Connects through the Putney Food Shelf. I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to put my time and energy. Creating a sustainable, regional food system might be one of the most important efforts of our time.”
Throughout the year, Food Connects will share the story of its history and impact in its first ten years. Be sure to check out their website and follow them on social media!
LinkedIn, Food Connects