A Little Meeting with a BIG Purpose

A little meeting happened at Dream Kitchen on August 23rd, 2018. A little meeting that was the result of months of hard work by several groups of people with a specific and meaningful goal in mind. That goal was to create a food hub for Kane County and Northern Illinois.

What is a Food Hub? The USDA Regional Food Hub Resource Guide defines one as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution and marketing of course-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail and institutional demand”. So what exactly does that mean and why is it a good thing for Illinois? If you were to traverse the greater Kane County area, you would find a wealth of small, independent farms with high-quality products. You would also find areas with limited access to these products. One of the wonderful things that a food hub does is act as an intermediary between these two settings, helping make fresh food more widely available in all areas. 2016 a small team from Dream HUB applied to house the first Kane County Food Hub, eventually winning that bid in spite of tough competition.

In order to house this Food Hub, Dream HUB would need to expand its shared commercial kitchen, Dream Kitchen, to include more food prep and cooler space. This meeting took place in that exact space, providing the committee members who selected Dream HUB and those currently working with our team on the food hub project an opportunity to see the expansion of Dream Kitchen. Those in attendance at this meeting included members of the Dream HUB team, the Kane County Agricultural Committee, the Northern Illinois Food Bank as well as the Kane County Farm Bureau. Kevin, Dream HUB CEO and founder, noted that during his conversation with one of the committee members it was acknowledged that the committee had confidence in Kevin and his team being able to follow through with a successful commercial kitchen buildout, giving the Dream HUB team an an advantage over their competition. This confidence was instrumental in the selection of Dream HUB and the results were on display today. Tours were given through the walk-in coolers, the expanded prep space and the USDA packaging area. A vision that has been realized through hard work and collaboration.

Once relationships have been established with local farms, a method for distribution needs to be established. The Dream Distributors branch of Dream HUB was created to serve as the aggregation and distribution arm of the food hub, providing a way to aggregate local produce and distribute per recommendations from the county. Trucks with cooling systems were purchased to ensure the high-quality local produce stays fresh during transport, a critical piece of the puzzle.

The August 23rd meeting provided an opportunity for the Kane County Agricultural Group, Dream Distributors, and Dream HUB teams to look to the future and continue strengthening their relationships. There is a very important shared vision amongst these groups and that is to strengthen the local food economy in Kane County. Dream Distributors, the aggregation There is a balance of tending to the business aspects of growing a food hub while ensuring the farmers within the food hub structure are receiving the support they need to simultaneously grow, and careful attention has been given to both of these vital aspects.  All parties in attendance left with a bright view of the future, the vision of growing local farms and increasing the availability of fresh produce already being realized.