MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL | MEAGAN NICHOLS
A local non-profit food distributor is expanding its offerings, just in time for the 2016 summer season.
Bring It Food Hub, which provides subscriptions — or shares — of its multi-farm community supported agriculture (CSA), will add breads, eggs, cheese and flowers, as well as home delivery for Midtown residents, to its services.
Alex Greene, general manager for Bring It Food Hub, said the decision to add more products was based on consumer feedback.
“It was really this idea of supplying to people who like to cook and wanting to expand their palate,” Greene said. “It was kind of demand driven.”
Bring It Food Hub was founded in 2013 with a mission to “promote community development in Memphis and the Mid-South by increasing access to healthy, affordable local foods and strengthening farmer livelihoods.”
Unlike traditional CSAs, which provide products from one farm, Bring It Food Hub gathers foods from about three dozen farms within a 150-mile radius and then sorts and delivers those products to its CSA members.
“It is all about variety and also helping the farmers just to farm rather than trying to market their own CSA,” Greene said.
The summer season runs from May 3 to September 2. Subscribers receive a weekly grab bag of produce that is delivered to one of roughly three dozen drop-off sites or, if a location like an office has five or more subscribers, Bring It Food Hub will deliver to that location.
Currently, there are 25 percent more subscribers then there were at this time last year. In the organization’s first year, it averaged about 160 shareholders a week. Last year that number jumped to 320; this year, Greene said they hope to hit 600 weekly shareholders. There are 250 subscribers now registered.
“The last bit of April is when everyone suddenly gets interested in produce,” Greene said.
Starting Tuesday, April 12, through Friday, April 22, Bring it Food Hub will give the first 50 new subscribers a free Bring It Food Hub shopping bag.
People can subscribe for the entire season or monthly. The least expensive bag of produce is $20 a week. The organization also has a program called Pay It Forward, which allows people to buy a subscription for a family in need. This could be for a week or for an entire season. The food is then brought to Bring It Food Hub’s community partners to distribute the bags.
The Pay It Forward program is something that Bring It Food Hub has offered since its inception. Bring It Food Hub also accepts Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payments through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“We are promoting that more heavily than ever this year,” Greene said. “We see this as the cure for food deserts. It is a huge issue in Memphis. We have big plans to go even further with that.”
Cooking classes will be available twice a month from May to August at Bring It Food Hub's headquarters at 694 Madison Ave. The classes are $30 for general admission and $25 for subscribers. The classes will be taught by local farmers. Proceeds from the classes also benefit Pay It Forward recipients.
“The proceeds are going towards cooking appliances like cutting boards and knives, basic cooking utensils for our Pay It Forward members to receive, so they can prepare their food,” said Carol Colter, executive director of Bring It Food Hub. “There is big gap. You receive all this whole food, but you don’t have any of the utensils in order to prepare it.”
Bring It Food Hub is an affiliate of Memphis Tilth. To learn more about the organization, how to subscribe or to volunteer, click here. The Bring It Food Hub website was recently rebranded by Memphis creative communications firm DCA.
“I think the Food Hub fulfills a gap in the marketplace,” Colter said. “It provides an opportunity for small sustainable farmers to farm and to do what they love and maybe scale up, and we can provide the marketing and sales and support that they need to grow more food and to grow more farmers.