BHSU Spearfish Local Program receives $100,000 grant to create local food hub

Author: BHSU Communications/Wednesday, October 14, 2015/Categories: 2015



   

   

   

       

           

       

       

           A Black Hills State University student volunteer helps harvest tomatoes out of the campus garden. Spearfish Local, launched in June 2014, is a BHSU initiative that brings together local producers, distributors, purchasers and consumers of local food while engaging BHSU students in the process. The program recently received a $100,000 grant from the USDA to help create a local food hub.

       

   



The Black Hills State University Spearfish Local Program recently received a $100,000 grant from the USDA Local Food Promotion Program.

Spearfish Local, launched in June 2014, is a BHSU initiative that brings together local producers, distributors, purchasers and consumers of local food while engaging BHSU students in the process.

The grant will be used to incubate a local food hub for the Northern Hills and provide fresh, healthy meals to more locations.

"This past year we&rsquove had discussions with area schools, hospitals, and nursing and retirement homes about the barriers to purchasing local food for their cafeterias," said Katie Greer, assistant director of facility services at BHSU. "This food hub seeks to break down those barriers. We will serve as a local food distribution company."

Through the new program, cafeterias will only need one point of contact to access food and delivery from multiple area farmers. The food hub will also be able to identify needs in the region for particular foods which could help farmers expand their businesses with in-demand crops.

The new local food hub is another way for Spearfish Local to maintain its mission of supporting the local economy.

"We strive to support the local economy by assisting businesses to promote their products and keeping local dollars in Spearfish," Greer said. "We assist consumers to identify local products, promote healthy eating choices with fresh produce, connect BHSU students with community members working on local food issues, and provide real world work experience for BHSU students."

Spearfish Local also serves as an internship program for BHSU students. Through the program, BHSU has employed 15 student intern positions since 2014. Students are placed in positions across the community, working on all aspects of the local food economy from harvesting CSA shares at local farms to communications for a neighboring vineyard.

To further promote local, fresh foods, Spearfish Local implemented a local food badge, designed by a BHSU graphic design student. Businesses that sell or cook with local food can show their support of the local economy by displaying the badge in their windows. Twenty local businesses have registered for the badge, Greer said.

Currently, Spearfish Local is working on research projects, including creating a geographical foodshed analysis. The analysis will include a GIS database and map of farms located in the Northern Hills. Spearfish Local also is producing a YouTube video series to promote local food consumption. Each video will feature a local farmer, restaurant or retailer that sells local food.

"It&rsquos exciting to see our program grow from our initial idea to get students involved with community local food efforts to a food hub that can have a real economic and health impact for Spearfish," Greer added.

For more information on the Spearfish Local program, visit www.BHSU.edu/SpearfishLocal.
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