Past Program: Hub and Spoke Program
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY: The Hub and Spoke model of food distribution was designed to increase the availability of fresh, local farm food to the hunger community in the five counties of Southern Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties).
While many anti-hunger organizations provide food for those in need, donations to these organizations tended heavily toward bulk, packaged products with a deficit of fresh produce. Moving bulk fresh produce often requires its own distribution needs. At the same time, Maryland farmers often have vegetables or fruit that are surplus or slightly blemished and therefore not marketable at full retail value. The Hub and Spoke provided a market for this produce. Notably, it provided a market for dropped accounts by large wholesalers, and an outlet for what would otherwise be considered food waste. A Maryland Hub and Spoke Task Force convened in 2013 to study the needs, challenges and opportunities of the region. The Task Force's findings and recommendations were published in a final REPORT.
From this, a partnership between the SOUTHERN MARYLAND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION and FARMING 4 HUNGER was formed, and the Hub and Spoke model was built and tested in the region. The hope was that farmers will be offered a financial incentive for their donation through a proposed Maryland tax credit (to help cover the cost of production, harvest and delivery). The bill was brought forth in the Maryland General Assembly in FY’14 (SB0670 and HB1083), FY’15 (SB0280 and HB0359), and FY’16 (SB249 and read in the House). To date the bill has not passed, but has been favorable. Despite the passage of the bill, the program has carried on, and in many cases, Farming 4 Hunger has been able to provide a financial incentive to farmers.
In 2015, the Hub and Spoke implemented a measurement tool to assess the impact of the distribution of fresh, local fruits and vegetables from Southern Maryland farms. The objective of the survey was to gather baseline data on the clients receiving fresh food through the distribution sites. The survey provided information beyond basic measures (pounds of food delivered, number of families served, etc.) such as the extent of the unmet need for fresh food, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about fresh food, and the program’s impact on social well-being and community engagement. This was helpful to the program stakeholders. The findings of the survey were published in a final REPORT. The Hub and Spoke program is intended to be adaptable to the needs of any community and to be replicated and shared with other communities around the state.
- SMADC funds expended to Farming 4 Hunger have amounted to $74,790, resulting in over $670,000 in revenue to 29 farms and 4,241,230 pounds of fresh, local produce.
- The program continues to make connections and partnerships with Southern Maryland farms.
- The program helped to expand the variety of produce from three types in 2013 to 20 types in 2016. Variety includes: Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Cabbage, Watermelon, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Cantaloupe, Squash, Kale, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Zucchini, Eggplant, Lettuce, Green Beans, Peppers, Apples, and Broccoli.
- The perishable food is in its freshest state at the arrival to the Spoke sites, typically in the hands of those who need it within 24-48 hours of harvest. A truck previously drove down and back from Baltimore, to sites all over Southern Maryland; this new model for our rural area keeps locally-grown food local, and provides quality over quantity.
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