New research brief describes an innovative school district food distribution hub connecting local growers with institutional buyers to increase access to fresh, local, high-quality produce

Apr 12, 2022

A new Nutrition Policy Institute research brief describes the benefits of an innovative food distribution hub run by a school district – the first of its kind in the nation. Building on a successful farm-to-school program, the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) began a food distribution hub in 2017. The hub's goals are to expand market opportunities for local growers while facilitating access to local produce for local institutions with limited capacity to purchase directly from growers. Many of the hub's customers–which included local school districts, colleges and universities, childcare centers and hospitals–serve communities with low income and limited access to fresh produce. The brief describes how the hub has benefited from an innovative joint-use model offering free access to existing RUSD infrastructure, which has supported new business development. It also highlights ways the hub has offered expanded market opportunities and fair prices for local growers as well as customer satisfaction with access to fresh, local, high quality and more varied produce than offered by other suppliers. The brief is a result of a collaborative project between RUSD, the University of California Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education Program, and Riverside University Health System.

By Danielle L. Lee
Editor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Ron Strochlic
Author - Academic Coordinator
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist
By Kenneth Hecht
Contributor - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Coordinator