Study outlines strategies needed for financial stability in an evaluation of a food hub intervention

Jan 16, 2024

Nutrition Policy Institute researchers studied an intervention for the expansion of the Mandela Health and Wealth Net, a food hub-based healthy retail initiative located in Oakland, California. The Mandela Produce Distribution food hub aggregates, distributes, and markets source-identified food products to enhance the accessibility of affordable, high-quality produce within low-income, low-access neighborhoods. The Nutrition Policy Institute research team examined how, with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mandela Partners was able to expand their food hub while implementing complementary interventions to ensure that the residents of low-income, low-access neighborhoods had increased access to fruits and vegetables. New produce retail sites were carefully selected to be places where neighborhood residents already frequented; complementary interventions included taste tests, marketing, accommodating SNAP-EBT payment, and offering a dollar-matching program for produce purchased using SNAP-EBT. This combination of strategies resulted in improved accessibility and purchases of fruits and vegetables in low-income, low-access neighborhoods and benefited local stores and regional farms; however, the overall food hub net losses increased during the period of expansion. Researchers suggest that for food-hubs to be financially self-sustaining, adjustments may be needed to reduce operating costs and increase revenues. The study led by Janice Kao, Gail Woodward-Lopez, Maria Isabel Rangel, and Aviva Hicks was published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition.

By Brianna Aguayo Villalon
Author - Student Communications Fellow
By Janice Kao
Editor - Academic Coordinator II