Wangaratta: Food Hub Feasibility Study

VISION: A THRIVING WANGARATTA FOOD SYSTEM 
The Wangaratta community will have a generous, thriving and transparent food system that cares for and respects people, values local food and local producers, and is empowering and collaborative. This will be a food system where food is grown everywhere, where no-one is hungry, and where everyone knows how to cook and eat well on low incomes. Wangaratta will be a place whose food system is integral to creating an energy and food efficient future, and in supporting young people into agriculture via increased employment and training opportunities
(Community Workshop participants’ combined vision for the food system in Wangaratta, September 2015)

Sustain, in partnership with Growing Change (Dr Jen Alden), was commissioned in September 2015 by the Wangaratta Community Food for All Network (CFFA) to undertake a feasibility study, investigating the potential for a community food hub in the rural Victorian city of Wangaratta. Our brief was to:

  • undertake research
  • elaborate upon definitions, such as food literacy
  • conduct community and stakeholder engagement
  • develop a business case for a Community Food Hub
  • provide an assessment of feasibility and recommendations for action, and
  • provide links and details of best practice examples.
Wangaratta Chronicle, Coverage of the Community Forum, 28 April 2016

Wangaratta Chronicle, Coverage of the Community Forum, 28 April 2016

In addition to extensive desktop research and analysis, Dr Nick Rose of Sustain and Dr Jen Alden carried out an extensive process of community and stakeholder engagement in undertaking this work. The engagement involved primary research with local food producers, community groups and organisations providing information about their needs for and interest in a Community Food Hub. This included over 25 individual, semi-structured interviews (mostly in-person and facilitated by previous relationships with the CFFA), a public workshop and consultation and participant observation. There were also a very large number of informal conversations.

The study concludes that a Community Food Hub in Wangaratta is, in principle, feasible.

The People's Kitchen, Wangaratta Food Hub concept

The People’s Kitchen, Wangaratta Food Hub concept

The final report was delivered to the CFFA Steering Committee in early April 2016, and presented to a community and stakeholder forum in Wangaratta on April 28, 2016, with more than 50 people in attendance.  The study concludes that a Community Food Hub in Wangaratta is, in principle, feasible. The study also concludes, based on the community engagement undertaken, that there is a need for the type of services and functions that a Community Food Hub could provide. Organisations in the health, welfare, community service and education sectors are keen to be part of a vision that moves beyond a foodbank model to incorporate life skills education, providing training and job opportunities.

The study found that A Community Food Hub in Wangaratta can build on the work of the Community Food For All network to contribute to long-term community health, wellbeing and prosperity by:

  • Contributing to food security for vulnerable communities, revitalising community partnerships in order to facilitate affordable access to healthy and seasonal local produce,
  • Building community skills,
  • Supporting and building the capacity of local producers and food businesses, while enhancing their long-term viability and ability to expand and diversify their enterprises with new value adding, warehousing and distribution options,
  • Playing a central role as a health promotion and business incubation setting that enables significant and diverse health, social, environmental and economic benefits to the community, and
  • Providing new pathways to training, employment and social enterprise ventures.

Economic Impact Assessment and Financial Analysis

The findings of the Economic Impact Assessment, based on the REMPLAN modelling software, reveal that after 12 months of operation of the Community Food Hub 9 FTE jobs would be created and supported, there would be a $1.22mn increase in total output to the Rural City of Wangaratta economy and a $0.705mn increase in value-added to the Rural City of Wangaratta economy. After 5 years of operation of the Community Food Hub 21 FTE jobs would be created and supported, there would be a $3.152mn increase in total output to the Rural City of Wagaratta economy and a $1.794mn increase in value-added to the Rural City of Wangaratta economy.

The People's Market, Wangaratta Community Food Hub

The People’s Market, Wangaratta Community Food Hub

The Financial Analysis based on modest assumptions sees the potential for business and financial strengths and viability of a Food Hub. It allows for a technological connector, such as the Open Food Network, to facilitate the preliminary phases of coordinating Food Hub activities. The financial modelling reveals the core activities of a Wangaratta Community Food Hub, namely education and training, storage and warehousing, marketing and distribution, and the operation of a commercial kitchen, could generate a net revenue of $322,166 within five years.

To read the summary of the Food Hub Feasibility Study, click here: Wangaratta Community Food Hub concept summary Final

To access local media coverage, click here: Media-FoodHubConcept290416

If you would like a copy of the full report (80 pages), please contact CFFA Coordinator, Kerry Craig, at: k.craig@wangaratta.vic.gov.au

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