A Farmer-Owned Food Hub Connects Local Farms and Restaurants

The Lempert Report
July 01, 2021

During the pandemic we saw a lot of farmers expand their reach to local supermarkets and restaurants to stabilize their businesses.

In Washington State it has advanced beyond those one-to-one relationships. Southwest Washington Cooperative Food Hub is an online platform that gives restaurant purchasers in Olympia and Tacoma access to over 25 different local farms and processors in Thurston, Pierce, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Mason counties with one invoice and one delivery that covers all the purchases from all the farms. “We know it is hard for purchasers to maintain individual relationships with farmers and purchase enough from individual farmer’s small inventories to make it worth the delivery costs,” Jesse Honiker, manager of the Southwest Washington Food Hub told Thurston Talk.

“The Food Hub is solving some of the trickiest issues in our food system for both our farmer members and our local purchasers of local products,” While many people these days are trending towards eating local the problem is sourcing locally, which can be a significant logistical problem for foodservice operations both for restaurants and grocerants. 5 years ago during a panel discussion that I moderated at the National Restaurant Association, Gary Zickel manager of foodservice operations at Mariano’s shared with me that exact problem which is why he had to change their well-known and cutting edge grocerant concept because of sourcing issues.

Southwest Washington Food Hub provides the logistic support, marketing savvy, and food safety expertise that aggregates a steady supply of locally grown. It is a very smart concept that we hope expands throughout the US that is truly a benefit for all foodservice operators.