Food Hub

Food Connects to Build New Cooler and Freezer

In November of 2018, Food Connects moved to a new facility at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s (BDCC) Business Park. This new space offers many benefits—access to a loading dock for our fleet, increased office and storage space, and most importantly, room to grow. 

Room to grow is essential to our future as we work towards a centralized facility with adequate storage capacity for all our frozen, refrigerated, and dry product. Currently, we’re only able to house smaller freezer units and dry storage under our roof. As we worked to utilize the current space to maximum capacity, dreaming up designs and wishlists, there was a fortuitous turn of events—we are now leasing our office space as well as the space adjacent to ours. 

What does this mean for Food Connects and our Food Hub? Well, we’ve been hard at work on the design, fundraising, and operational implementation of a 1,000 square foot freezer and cooler space! 

Richard secured grant funding for us from High Meadows Fund, Sandy River Charitable Foundation, and the You Have Our Trust Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. These grants provide partial funding for the layout design and construction of the cooler space by ARC Mechanical, coordinated by Alex and McKenna.  To raise the remaining funds to pay for the construction, Laura created and is implementing a campaign plan—and we need your help!

We are incredibly excited about what this means for the future of our Food Hub. The new 1,000 square foot cooler and freezer space give us three times more storage capacity. This means that we can increase the number of producers and products we carry, increasing the amount of local food we are able to provide to our community. Operational efficiencies will dramatically increase with our loading docks, offices, and storage space all under one roof—increasing ease of access for drop-offs and pick-ups. And, we hope, that this will aid in our ability to service more producers and consumers in the Upper Valley.

Now we are at an impasse—we are $150,000 into our goal of $200,000 thanks to grant funding and corporate donations. We need to start construction and are still $50,000 away from our goal—and need your help, our community’s help, to get there. We are so close to our goal and thrilled to have the support of so many community partners already.

If you would like to know more about our campaign, please be sure to check our expansion page on our website. We will provide up to date information as often as possible.

And please, consider making a charitable, tax-deductible donation to our Cooler Campaign to make our dream a reality!

A New Home for Food Connects

Food Connects was bursting at the seams. Our growing team meant that we quickly outgrew our wonderful space at the Retreat Farm. Knowing we would keep a strong partnership with their educational programming, we searched for a new place to call home.

In November the Food Connects team said “We’re home!” to a 3,300 square foot warehouse space in the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Business Park. We traded in the sounds of farm animals for the sounds of pallet jacks. And although it does not have the stunning views as the old farmhouse, we have something essential to our future—room to grow.

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Spacious office areas allow our teams to work more effectively. Having our coolers, freezers, and dry storage in one area allows our Food Hub to more efficiently manage products. And our favorite feature? Access to a loading dock! Our box truck and van can now simply drive up to the door and we can load up right away. This means we spend less time moving back and forth from space to space to complete orders and receive more accurate orders!

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Amazingly, with all of the equipment and areas we have set up, we still have space! We are looking towards the future to envision how we can best use the rest of the space. We are eager to see what partnerships with our neighbors, Against the Grain and the Vermont Foodbank, may bring. We are fortunate to have a great partnership with Harlow Farms that allows us to use their cooler space and we have plans to add a walk-in cooler and freezer to store products in our new location. And we can’t wait until we are able to host our first public event in this space!

If you are interested in learning more about our ideas for the future or funding any projects please contact info@foodconnects.org.


Our Van is in the Spotlight

Food Connects expands wholesale delivery with new van

A new refrigerated van will allow Food Connects to expand delivery.

Posted Monday, October 8, 2018 8:15 pm

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — Food Connects, a nonprofit organization that focuses on farm-to-school programming and wholesale local food distribution, added a new refrigerated van to its Food Hub fleet for deliveries.

Food Connects was able to purchase the new refrigerated cargo van thanks to grant support from the State of Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board and USDA Rural Development. The van allows Food Connects to have two drivers making deliveries simultaneously, increasing the amount of locally produced food delivered in southeast Vermont, southwest New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. Deliveries are made to more than 100 hospitals, schools, independent grocers, co-ops, and other wholesale buyers in the region.

Adding the van to the Food Hub fleet was necessary to keep pace with the rapidly growing demand for local food in the region. And the arrival of the van was well-timed, as sales dramatically increased this fall. Food Connects has had multiple and consecutive record-breaking sales weeks since the purchase of the van, and sales in September were higher than any single month in the organization's history. All of these dollars stay local and go back to more than 60 local producers in the community.

The van presents even more opportunities for the future of Food Connects. It creates an opportunity to increase the variety of items sold, including the amount of frozen products it delivers to customers. Food Connects will be able to reach remote buyers more efficiently and more often, helping with their expansion of services to the Upper Valley region. It's also an investment in the effort to provide the best and most reliable customer service to all of the organization's customers, and it strengthens market development support for local agriculture and food businesses that is critical to the future of the rural economy.

Food Connects is an entrepreneurial nonprofit that delivers locally produced food as well as educational and consulting services aimed at transforming local food systems.

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Organization streamlines local food distribution with new refrigerated van

Thursday, October 18, 2018

By Meg McIntyre, Keene Sentinel Staff  

For one area nonprofit organization, a new refrigerated delivery van will make it easier to connect people with locally grown food and products.

Food Connects is a Brattleboro-based nonprofit organization that delivers locally produced foods from more than 45 farms, vendors and producers to organizations throughout southeastern Vermont, southwestern New Hampshire and western Massachusetts.

For food producers — such as Monadnock Region participants like Farmer John’s Plot in Dublin, Picadilly Farm in Winchester and Terra Nova Coffee in Keene — Food Connects helps streamline the wholesale distribution process, according to Laura Carbonneau, communications manager.

“They don’t have to go and make all these individual deliveries; we aggregate it, and get as much back to the farmers as possible,” Carbonneau said.

Food Connects was recently able to purchase a new refrigerated delivery van through grant funding from the state of Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board and from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which will allow for two delivery drivers to be on the road at one time.

Until now, the organization hasn’t always been able to meet its demand with only one box truck available for shipments. But with the new refrigerated van, the organization will be able to increase the number of deliveries it’s able to make, Carbonneau said.

“We’ll be able to increase in terms of not only how many, but where we’re going to be able to go, too,” Carbonneau said. “Because we are kind of concentrated in this southwest corner and southeast corner of Vermont and New Hampshire, and now we’ll be able to broaden that a little bit further.”

Food Connects serves a wide range of organizations, from the Monadnock Food Co-Op to Cheshire Medical Center to the ConVal Regional School District.

“When local schools and businesses are purchasing locally, they’re investing back into their community, and they’re getting food that’s not transported all the way from California or Florida,” she said. “It’s local, and it gives a better sense of connection to the community as well.”

Beyond helping organizations purchase farm-fresh products, Food Connects also runs farm-to-school programming with networking and educational events in Vermont schools. For example, the organization helps facilitate taste tests for the Harvest of the Month campaign, which promotes seasonal eating.

“Some of the support that we offer is helping food service directors figure out how to incorporate local food into their menus, because that’s not always the easiest thing to do,” Carbonneau said.

In 2017, Food Connects also took over management of Monadnock Menus, a program the organization helped start through the Cheshire County Conservation District in 2013 to help area farmers and food producers market and distribute their products to different enterprises.

Carbonneau noted that through operating that program, Food Connects has increased its focus on New Hampshire and the Monadnock Region.

“Really we do focus a lot on New Hampshire and getting food into New Hampshire schools and stores, and we purchase from a lot of different New Hampshire vendors and farmers and producers. So it’s really not just a Vermont thing, and it’s becoming more of a tri-state thing with Massachusetts too,” Carbonneau said.

“But right now it’s definitely the Twin States working together.”