On Thursday August 11th, Governor Cuomo held an event at the Food Distribution Center in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx to announce, among other things, the funds to help create a Greenmarket Regional Food Hub to be located in the same Hunts Point neighborhood. CFF hosted a briefing with GrowNYC last July that laid out plans for the food hub. At the time, the NYS Regional Food Hub Task Force was meeting and taking comments for a forthcoming report expected to include recommendations. The CFF Steering Committee felt the proposed new hub, managed by a mission-driven nonprofit like GrowNYC, had the potential to impact so many different food system goals in our region that we wrote comments supporting the plan to the Task Force.
A little over a year later, Governor Cuomo has now committed $15M towards an expected $20M budget to complete the plan, and at the same time released the final Food Hub Task Force Report and announced a new NYS Grown and Certified Program. From the Governor’s press release:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today launched the New York State Grown & Certified program and announced a new $20 million food hub in the Bronx to increase access to farm-fresh produce. The New York State Grown & Certified program identifies and promotes New York producers who adhere to New York’s food safety and environmental sustainability programs, and assures consumers that the food they are buying is local and produced at a higher-standard. To support the new certification program and increase access to farm-fresh food, the State is also building a state-of-the-art food hub that significantly expands distribution capacity, provides new markets for farmers, and creates 95 permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs in Hunts Point.
In response to the Food Hub Task Force Report, Governor Cuomo announced that New York State is investing $15 million in the construction of a new $20 million Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the Bronx. The state-of-the-art, 120,000 square foot facility will increase New Yorkers’ access to fresh, locally grown and produced food. The Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will also support farms that are New York State Grown & Certified by promoting their local products to restaurants and institutional buyers. The Food Hub will create 95 permanent jobs and 150 construction jobs.
The Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will be located in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx and will include a wholesale farmers’ market, a cold storage facility for farmers, a food-processing center and other infrastructure to support local food businesses. The new food hub will work with a range of small- and mid-sized farms, providing unprecedented access to New York City’s wholesale marketplace. The processing facility will also assist Upstate producers and processors in targeting institutional and private sector procurement opportunities. In addition, the food hub will facilitate the expansion of farmers’ markets and youth markets in underserved communities.
Among the virtues that CFF was impressed with was the fact the GrowNYC’s institutional practice is to let farmers set the price of their goods, and to pay truckers and all workers along the supply chain a living wage. Additionally, an increase in Greenmarket Co’s capacity means an increase in the number of people (predominantly in low income neighborhoods) GrowNYC can serve with their food access programs such as Youthmarket farm stands and Fresh Food Box delivery programs, as well as a general increase in wholesale distribution of local food already totaling over 2M pounds of produce. Finally, GrowNYC plans to incorporate a direct wholesale to retail store as part of the facility that would be open to the public and provide access to fresh local food at an affordable price to South Bronx residents.
At the same time, CFF also honors and aims to support concerns raised by a self-described “group of grassroots thought leaders of color, working in New York City and nationally to promote economic self -determination and food sovereignty for communities of color” who published their own comments to the Food Hub Task Force last summer. These comments include calls for a structural race analysis of our current food system, and questions the safety and efficacy of concentrating so much of our food distribution in a single community, especially when that community has little or no say in these developments and is itself lacking in fresh food access. A network of micro-hubs is one of many ideas proposed by the group. Promisingly, the final task force report echoed these sentiments:
While an anchor food hub in the Bronx would serve as a nexus of connectivity between NYC and the regional food system, it cannot alone meet the City’s total demand for regional food distribution and economic opportunity. Neighborhood food hubs could streamline distribution and supply chain logistics, create local jobs, encourage entrepreneurship in the food sector, and support food access by increasing the availability of fresh, healthy food in New York.
While not a distribution hub, one day prior the Governor’s announcement NYCEDC announced a food manufacturing hub to be built at the Brooklyn Army Terminal with the capacity to host up to 10 growing food companies.