In Southeast Alaska, improved access to local foods and a more reliable food supply are critical components of self-reliance and community resiliency. Residents of the region’s rural communities face high and rising costs of living, a declining state economy, and dependence upon air and water transport for delivery of basic commodities including food and petroleum products. According to a report commissioned by the Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services, 95% of the food purchased in Alaska is imported, often shipped through extensive supply chains arriving by truck, airplane, and barge.
The high cost of imported foods and lengthy supply chain make Southeast Alaska communities vulnerable to unforeseen disruptions in larger national food and transport systems, and send local dollars outside of the state. Many communities throughout the region have begun prioritizing the development of a localized food system to promote economic development, increase food security, and bolster the resiliency of Southeast Alaska communities.
The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition is thrilled to announce an award of funds through the USDA Local Foods Promotion Program to build the region’s capacity for a more localized food system. Through this grant, SAWC and our partners will work to increase the production of, access to, and consumption of Southeast Alaska-produced foods by developing local food market opportunities using a food hub model.
A regional food hub is a third-party organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of food products from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy retail, wholesale, and institutional demand. Through this project, SAWC and our partners will increase consumption of and access to Southeast Alaska produced foods by:
- Providing critical training, technical assistance and business development services to local food entrepreneurs, and
- Facilitating the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of locally produced food products through an online marketplace and physical distribution centers servicing the region.
The Southeast Alaska Food Hub Network will facilitate opportunities for new markets throughout the region where local food producers can connect with local consumers, while supporting the growth and development of a community of local food businesses throughout the region.
This project is made possible because of a partnership with Haa Aani and The Sustainable Southeast Partnership. SAWC and our partners will jump into work on the three year project this fall. Stay tuned for more information and updates on this exciting initiative as we work to build our local food system for the benefit of our region’s communities and economy!
For more information on this project please contact:
Lia Heifetz, Food Sustainability Regional Catalyst
Angie Flickinger, Executive Director