The PATH Foundation has announced a $1.2 million grant to 4P Foods to fund the construction of a food hub at Vint Hill. Funding from the PATH Foundation will cover equipment, engineering and architecture plans, and some staffing for the new facility.
According to the USDA, a food hub is a facility that manages the “aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.”
The 4P Food Hub will be the first food hub in Fauquier County, serving all of the PATH Foundation’s footprint. Its construction will address issues with current food infrastructure, in addition to benefitting several existing nonprofit programs that focus on food and food insecurity. The food hub will also connect local farms to regional buyers, including schools, health providers and food banks.
“Our community is heavily rooted in agriculture, but many of its residents lack access to fresh food,” said Christy Connolly, PATH Foundation president and CEO. “Food impacts all four of the PATH Foundation’s health priorities and plays an important role in overall community health. By improving access to healthy food, the food hub will play a key role in accomplishing our mission: to strengthen the health and vitality of our community.”
Kirsten Dueck, senior program officer at the PATH Foundation, worked closely on the development of the grant and was impressed with the vision for the food hub.
“Good food is important for the health of our community, our economy, our schools, our neighbors and, above all, our farmers,” she said. “In the past, we’ve seen promising programs struggle without a reliable, affordable way to get products from farms to tables. The 4P Food Hub is a game changer. We are excited about this collaboration with Tom and the great team at 4P Foods, and we look forward to the impact that it will have on our community.”
Tom McDougall, founder and CEO of 4P Foods, believes that farmers deserve access to buyers that want the fresh food they produce, while consumers deserve equitable access to getting that food on their plates.
“Our farmers and our partners all share in the same belief that good, local food should be a right, not a privilege,” said McDougall. “This support from the PATH Foundation will allow us to open our next chapter here at 4P and grow upon the work we’ve been doing for the past five years. Together with our partners, we will be working hard to make sure healthy, local sustainable food can become the norm, not the exception.”
The food hub is also slated to benefit the local farming economy.
“The Food Hub will be a great resource for our farmers,” said Miles Friedman, director of economic development for Fauquier County. “Agriculture is a key component of the Fauquier County economy and the food hub concept addresses several needs that can be constraints to the success of farmers in the region.”
Other community stakeholders expressed support for the project.
“This is the best partner and the best concept we’ve seen for opening up markets for local products. It’s going to be huge for future generations,” said Chris Butler, chair of the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.
Construction and renovation of the new food hub facility is expected to be complete in early 2020. In the meantime, 4P Foods is already running operations out of Vint Hill, allowing individual consumers and institutional buyers to purchase local food through their website.
See more information about this grant in the Fauquier Times. For more information about 4P Foods, please visit www.4PFoods.com, and for more information about the PATH Foundation and our grants, please visit our grants page.