The Nelsonville Food Hub encompasses an estimated 10,000 square feet of the 95,000 square foot business facility ACEnet has owned since 2006. The facility is a prime location, close to major metropolitan Ohio and West Virginia cities. Additionally, a new roadway is to be constructed by year’s end that will improve access to the facility.
Since June, the food sector space has increased by 3600 square feet, in which a new walk-in cooler/freezer storage was installed in early June 2015; the cooler measures 22’x16’ and the freezer measures 14’x16’. Dry storage space for value-added products and winter vegetables is also available for area food businesses and producers, as well as a label machine and batch coder that will assist in increasing productivity for small food businesses.
With funding from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, ACEnet, Rural Action, and Community Food Initiatives are collaborating to increase healthy food access in Southeast Ohio. To this end, a portion of the walk-in cooler space is secured to satisfy the collaborative mission. Currently, 100 cubic feet and counting of frozen and cut vegetables are stored for Rural Action’s Farm to School program, which will be distributed to 13 areas schools over the coming year. The Donation Station has also been utilizing the food hub, as a way to increase healthy food access to the Nelsonville food pantry.
We are currently reaching out to area food businesses, farmers, and regional distributors to begin conversations about the role the Nelsonville Food Hub will play to strengthen local distribution networks. ACEnet hosted an open house at the end of June, where we initiated conversations with four food distributors based out of Columbus, Ohio. We currently have one food business who is utilizing the food hub as an aggregation and distribution space for their value-added products. Additionally, we have a cooperative that will be renting warehousing space beginning in August, for value-added products, allowing them to increase production and enter the market. Other outreach includes a variety of small food businesses and processors, including meat, dairy and produce.
Community Update by ACEnet Food Access Partners Coordinator, Rosemary Roe