The Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative is farmer-led co-op working to get local food into the grocery, distributor, institutional, and school market channels. The Food Hub is committed to building a vibrant local and regional food system that supports all levels of the value-chain; farmers, businesses, and consumers. Cash flow challenges in its first year led the cooperative to seek a loan from FCI.
The loan from FCI in the Food Hub’s first year in operation allowed it to get into local food markets and open up space in the grocery produce section and with distributors for Wisconsin farmers’ products.
In addition to expanding access to wholesale markets for local growers and contributing to an economically sustainable local food network, the growth of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative promises to add employment opportunities. A full-time sales, operations and logistics manager has been hired and additional support staff will be enlisted as farmer membership grows, moving more Wisconsin produce and products into the market. “As a start up we needed to find a lending partner that would take some first steps with us as we got the business up and running,” says Sarah Lloyd, the co-op’s general manager. “FCI staff provided important input in our business planning process and also the cooperative formation process.”