BROOKINGS, S.D. - Local food producers involved in establishing the first food hub in South Dakota entertained potential clients during four receptions held in July.
The receptions featured professional chefs creating dishes from local foods, sampling foods raised by local farmers, and an introduction to the concept of the food hub.
Dakota Fresh Food Hub
Dakota Fresh will be a producer-owned LLC located in southeastern South Dakota. "It will assist producers in aggregating, marketing and distributing their food products to places such as restaurants, institutions and grocers in the region," said Kari O'Neill, SDSU Extension Community Development Field Specialist.
O'Neill explained that the two-year planning process was funded in part through a Local Food Promotion Program grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service. More than 25 producers were involved in the planning.
More than 30 potential buyers attended the four receptions held in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Wagner and Yankton. Buyers came from a wide range of entities including independent restaurants, schools, grocers, bakeries, Senior meal services, catering services, and businesses providing food for large companies. "Potential buyers expressed an interest in purchasing local foods on a regular basis from the hub, and in making sure the supply will be as consistent and high quality as possible," O'Neill said.
Jonathan Ricks, chef for Sodexo who serves the Capital One workforce and demonstrated cooking with local food during the Wagner reception, added, "I love what I heard today. Chefs enjoy being creative, and this is a way we can do that with the seasonality of the food available," Ricks said.
Delivering high quality local food on a consistent basis will be the main goal for Dakota Fresh. Next steps to making the hub a reality will include searching for a part-time food hub manager who will be the key communicator, marketer and deliverer of the product, and locating a warehouse site to aggregate food.
O'Neill explained that when the hub opens in early 2016, it will use on online ordering system and will deliver food once a week.
Key partners assisting with the start-up of Dakota Fresh include; SDSU Extension, Dakota Rural Action, S.D. Specialty Producers, S.D. Department of Agriculture and USDA Rural Development.
For more information contact O'Neill (605.685.6972).
Chef Dustin Allen, Edge Restaurant, Peoria, IL demonstrates cooking with local foods during a food hub reception held in Brookings.