January 6, 2017

Businesses key to Middlebury food hub’s success

By Gareth Henderson

MIDDLEBURY — A food hub run by a group of local students has received steady support from Vermont businesses since its founding in 2013.

Middlebury Foods, a nonprofit organization run by Middlebury College students, delivers produce, meat, eggs, cheese and other staples once a month to six sites across Addison County.

They also have a delivery site in Rutland County at American Legion Post 55 on Franklin Street in Brandon.

Middlebury Foods, which is run by volunteers, has partnerships with 10 to 15 farms and businesses where food is purchased, such as Smith Family Farm and Vermont Fresh Pasta.

Cameron Weiner, communications manager for the food hub, said the mission is to bring people fresh and affordable food. The organization buys its food at wholesale prices and is able to sell it at a minimal markup. As a result, Middlebury Foods is able to offer prices 20 to 50 percent lower than supermarkets, Weiner said.

That takes away the affordability barrier to nutritious food, which she said can be an issue for people at the supermarket.

“People oftentimes have to settle for less-nutritious food options,” Weiner said. “Our goal is to help people overcome that.”

She emphasized that partnerships with local farms and businesses are critical to the group’s success.

“We really want to support the different communities in Vermont,” Weiner said. “We really try to support local businesses.”

She pointed out the benefit of Middlebury Foods being a nonprofit organization.

“There’s no incentive to make extra money, and so, we can really focus on our customers,” Weiner said.

Since the group is completely run by volunteers, its overhead costs are able to stay very low, she added.

Interested people order online through the group’s website, selecting the pickup site they prefer. Then, volunteers go to the organization’s refrigerated unit, located in Shoreham, where they pack the bags of food and load them into U-Haul trucks. They bring the food to pickup sites on Friday.

Some sites are local schools and legion posts, which help keep the group connected to the community.

For more information, go to www.middleburyfoods.com.


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