Montana Coop: the Regional Food Hub Distribution Plan

by Catherine Haug, August 4, 2012

At our July gathering on the Montana Coop, presented by Jason Moore, we learned they are investigating a new type of food distribution system, different from that used by Azure Standard and other online coops such as Oklahoma and Boise.

I’m currently working on the event summary, and hope to have it finished for the next newsletter, Meanwhile, read on for lots of good information and links on:

  • This food distribution system project,
  • Upcoming community meetings regarding the food hubs
  • Supporting local producers,
  • Making it work (education, cooperation, coaching),
  • Promoting wellness (food as medicine), and
  • Creating local jobs.

The mapping tool project

Nancy Matheson of Montana’s Department of Agriculture heads a team that is working on the model for this new system that she calls a ‘mapping tool.’ From Jason:

Led by the Montana Department of Agriculture, this project is the first step in mapping and analyzing the progress we have made in building local food value chains. We are creating interactive maps to help analyze gaps and linkages between direct marketing farmers, food processors, distributors, and the stores, farmers markets, and restaurants where they sell their products.

Her team will be visiting various communities in western Montana to:

  • present the concept;
  • give you a chance to look at the food system maps;
  • get your input regarding your local area;
  • enlist your help to analyze gaps and potential new links, and for setting priorities for action and policy to support the next steps in food system infrastructure development.

I will add a link to the flyer for these community presentations as soon as it is available.

Here are links to a few informational documents pertinent to the proposed system and our local economy:

More thoughts and ideas

Jason provides the following thoughts about this local food system, and beyond:

  • How can a company or organization (i.e. consumer and producer owned co-op) tie everyone together to create efficiencies and begin working together as a team to solve serious issues we’re faced with today?
  • How will we actually make a difference and track it?
  • How can local consumers conveniently purchase their local groceries?
  • What can we do on our own without relying on the big grocery stores that already have a proven method of ordering, mostly from outside of MT?
  • How do we educate people to buy local fresh food and invest in the farmers (i.e. CSA)?
  • How do we produce more (i.e. get commitments by consumers)?
  • Creating jobs: Finding jobs should be the easy part, turning those potential jobs into real life opportunities will be our challenge. Understanding what product is available and what services (i.e. value-added processing) are connected to the product (i.e. processing, transportation, etc.) will be very beneficial in discovering jobs.
  • What is it people want today?  They have to live a happy, healthy, and secure life.  How can we help with that…
  • A need to fill a health and wellness role, with Food being our Medicine. See for more information.
  • Tie this into wellness education, support, and coaching; then we can really start to show some progress. See for more information.


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