When it comes to transforming local food systems and enhancing school nutrition, collaboration is key. The Kalamazoo Valley Community College Food Hub, known as ValleyHUB, stands at the forefront of this collaborative effort, redefining the way schools source their produce through the Michigan 10 Cents a Meal Program.
This commercial photography session took place at ValleyHUB for the Michigan Department of Education and the 10 Cents a Meal Program, showcasing the role a food hub plays in the local food chain.
Food hubs connect local farmers, producers, and food artisans with consumers, retailers, and institutions such as restaurants, schools, and hospitals.
The journey of produce from farms to schools is a well-orchestrated symphony at ValleyHUB. Orders from school districts are placed on Sundays, triggering a flurry of activity on farms to harvest the needed volume. By Tuesday, ValleyHUB's refrigerated trucks are out, gathering the harvest and storing it safely. Knowing that many school districts don't have the capabilities to process the produce for the masses, ValleyHub washes, processes, and packages the food before delivering it to the schools.
This means that schools can now source their produce with farm-level traceability, all in a single invoice and delivery. This streamlined process not only supports the 10 Cents a Meal Program's requirements but also empowers schools to make the choice for local produce a seamless reality.
ValleyHUB doesn't just provide produce; it educates and inspires the community. As a leading teaching platform, ValleyHUB offers extensive outreach programs to the community, enlightening students, parents, and the wider public about sustainability and agriculture. Beekeeping 101 and Building a Native Bee Hotel are just two examples of community classes offered by ValleyHUB.
As I walked the property grounds during our session, I saw students harvesting produce in raised beds, fresh produce being loaded and delivered to community organizations, aquaponic tanks full of fish fertilizing lettuce, African crops being grown for a community spring celebration, and personal projects of interest and inquiry.
The partnership between ValleyHUB and the Michigan Department of Education's 10 Cents a Meal Program is a testament to the transformative potential of collaboration. Together, they weave a tapestry of local food systems, sustainable agriculture, and empowered communities. ValleyHUB strengthens the impact on students, farmers, and the wider region, nurturing a future where fresh, local produce is more than just a choice—it's a way of life.
Follow the story...curious where these rainbow carrots and the celery above came from? Check out the harvesting pictures from my session at Crisp County Acres.
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