What does it take to move 35 million pounds of produce? The Food Hub Network finds out.

(Submitted by Ivory Harlow, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

When you think ‘food hub’, a foodbank may not be the first place that comes to mind, but the Mid-Ohio Foodbank engages in several hub activities including the aggregation, distribution and marketing of food products, as part of its mission to feed hungry families and create sustainable communities. Like many food hubs, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank aims to increase consumption of fresh food, improve access and strengthen the local and regional food system.

The Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network recently visited the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to experience firsthand how the Foodbank efficiently and effectively aggregates and redistributes fresh food. Director of Food Resource Development Mike Frank shared how his team will distribute 35 million pounds of fresh food in 2017. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank sources food from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food manufacturers, local produce growers, community organizations and Ohio food businesses. They work with 650 agency partners to distribute food in 20 Ohio counties.

Mike guided Food Hub Network members through the 205,000 square foot facility which includes a gigantic dry storage warehouse, expansive cooler and drive-through freezer!

Volunteers were hard at work in an area designated for sorting food. Like many food hubs and local food co-ops in Ohio and West Virginia, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank relies on volunteers for daily operations. Volunteers check the integrity of each food item to ensure safety was not compromised during donation and transit.

The Foodbank adheres to the same food safety standards and implements similar safety precautions as food hub businesses. All 650 partner agencies must be trained in proper food storage and safe food handling.

To learn more about the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, including how to volunteer or become a partner agency visit https://www.midohiofoodbank.org/.