Friends for Life!

It’s summertime again, and we are running on all cylinders at the Bring It Food Hub. We’ve had a busy couple of months since we started offering our Winter and Spring produce subscriptions. The heavy rains and warm sunshine have produced an incredible bounty of fruits and vegetables which not only leads to an exciting variety for our customers, but also gives us an opportunity to donate to those who are food insecure.

We’ve been calling on our usual partners as a channel for our overabundance, but we’re excited to include a new member to our food recovery network: Friends for Life! Friends For Life provides hope, help and healing for Mid-Southerners affected by HIV/AIDS. You can learn more about them by visiting their website http://www.friendsforlifecorp.org/. We were approached by their Nutritional Services Manager, Abigail Roche, who was previously an intern with us last summer. Thanks to her initiative, we donated over 500 pounds of produce to them! I hope that we can be a regular contributor to them as we try to grow our network of institutions that can benefit from fresh, local, and healthy vegetables.

 

Another tremendous cog that helps this Rube Goldberg machine go, is Memphis Tilth intern Michelle Gross! Michelle has been interning for the last several months for Memphis Tilth, and she has expressed interest in helping with the food recovery project. This past week, Michelle helped us sort and weigh produce, and made phone calls to setup donations to several locations. Michelle is planning on interning until the end of the year, and I can’t express how excited I am that she is able to help us!

 

As always, you can purchase a Pay It Forward bag to be donated to one of the many institutions that we work with.  Also don’t forget that Fall is just around the corner and you can sign up today for your Fall vegetable produce subscription here!

 

CSA Day is Here!

Today is CSA Day, a tradition which was started in 2014 by an organization called Small Farm Central. The purpose of the effort is to celebrate the hard work of local farmers across the country, and take the opportunity to support them by joining their CSAs.

What exactly is a CSA? “CSA stands for ‘community supported agriculture,’ which is a direct-to-customer business model for farmers. In the traditional CSA model, people pay for a season’s worth of produce sometimes months in advance. This is great for the farmers because they get the revenue when they most need it to get ready for the growing season.”

Purchasing a CSA is a commitment to an individual farm; A seasons worth of guaranteed sale’s which can carry the farm through what can be a very tumultuous financial situation of waxing and waning restaurant or farmers market sales. When you purchase a CSA from an individual farm, you are putting your name on a piece of ground and you are truly along for the ride. With that commitment comes any number of issues which might arise: a failed crop, infestation, a sudden unfortunate change in weather, and so on can affect the volume you see in your share each week. Conversely, sometimes there is a surplus which you also get to experience. Purchasing a CSA from a single farm is always an exciting prospect.

Here at the Bring It Food Hub we employ a different approach. As an aggregator of fresh local food which works to expand market opportunities to specialty crop growers in our area, we offer a similar experience to a CSA. However, since we do not have any physical property and purchase produce from farmers, we do not offer a true CSA but rather a Produce Subscription. This approach gives us a different opportunity to support our farmers, by offering them a diversified revenue stream aside from their individual farm CSA sales, farmers market sales, and restaurant sales. Furthermore, farmers selling into our Produce Subscription service have the chance to extend their brand to a new audience as we take their beautiful product and name, to our drop sites throughout the area. People who otherwise might not have ever heard of these small growers now have the chance to experience them firsthand in their home kitchens. We are proud of our work with our farmers and are continually expanding our roster of growers.

So this CSA Day we encourage you to take part in a subscription, whether it be through an individual farm, or by supporting multiple farms at once through the Bring It Food Hub Produce Subscription.  This weekend we are offering a 10% discount on all Subscription orders as well as a free Bring It Food Hub tote bag! Use the code CSADAY at checkout to take advantage of this deal. Spring 2017 Subscriptions are now available for sign up at www.BringItFoodHub.com.

Looking to take part in a single farm CSA? Check out these great farms!

Thanksgiving Meats & Produce Box

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we offer you the opportunity to set your table with local meats and produce! The meat options come from our partners at Marmilu Farms and Loch Holland Farm. The Thanksgiving Produce Box will include various produce, such as root vegetables, greens, and fruit from local farmers.

These items can be purchased at our online store under the “Meats” and “Vegetables” tabs: http://csa.farmigo.com/store/bringitfoodhub/

Available meats
Local Boston Butt (frozen) – $51.48 (with tax), about 9 lbs
Local Picnic Roast (frozen) – $37.54 (with tax), about 9 lbs
Local Half Ham (frozen) – $80.44 (with tax), about about 9 lbs
Local Turkey (frozen) – $85.80 (with tax), 17-20 lbs

Available produce
Thanksgiving Produce Box – $37.54 (with tax)

Meat and produce boxes can be picked up on Friday, November 20th between 12pm and 7pm at the Bring It Food Hub at 694 Madison Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38103. If you have any questions about these special holiday items, please email us at localfood@bringitfoodhub.com.

Giving Food a Second Life

Hey everyone! I want to talk about food recovery.  I’m willing to bet that the majority of people in this city throw away food because it has gone bad before it could be eaten.  How many bananas or heads of lettuce were trashed because of their short shelf life?  According to a recent article on food waste in the Huffington Post, “…moving food from farm to table accounts for 50 percent of land use in the US, 10 percent of total energy consumption, and 80 percent of all freshwater used. Despite these inputs, only 60 percent of the food produced in the US is actually eaten, with 52 percent of fruits and vegetables thrown out. This equates to $165 billion of food waste each year.” 

At Bring It Food Hub, we typically end up with 50 to 100 pounds of extra produce either from people donating their bag for the week, or from farmers providing a little extra produce to make up for damaged items.  So every week, we sort through the left over produce and donate all the food that is still fresh to food pantries in the city.

3078625489_c76bcda278_oLuckily, Memphis has some great local resources that you can use to help eliminate food waste.  There are a number of food pantries in the Memphis area that take fresh, whole produce and distribute it to people in need.  These institutions are usually stocked full of canned and shelf-stable items which is great; but you can’t tell me that fresh green beans aren’t better than canned, or that a fresh pear isn’t amazingly refreshing in this Memphis heat.

Bring It Food Hub personally donates all subscription produce bags that are not picked up during the week to food pantries through our Pay It Forward program.  There are many ways to participate in the Pay It Forward Program. When you join any produce subscription, Pay It Forward bags can be purchased as an add-on item. If you are not a regular Bring It produce subscription customer, you can exclusively purchase Pay It Forward bags at our online store, here.  All Pay It Forward purchases are considered a tax deductible donation. 

Below is a list of food pantries Bring It Food Hub donates to each week, and you can too!  Please feel free to reach out to these organizations if you wish to learn more about how to make a donation.

First Congregational Church – The food pantry at First Congregational Church in the Cooper Young neighborhood is open from 11am-1pm: https://www.firstcongo.com/calendar-item/food-pantry/

St. John’s United Methodist Church – The food pantry at St. John’s United Methodist Church accepts food donations every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9-11am: http://www.stjohnsmidtown.org/outreach/food-ministries/food-pantry/

Ample Harvest – AmpleHarvest.org is an online platform that allows you to find active food pantries in your area: http://ampleharvest.org/find-pantry/

We recommend contacting all food pantries to confirm operating hours before making your donation.

Staff Stories: Rob Coleman

My name is Rob Coleman, and I am the Bring It Food Hub assistant.  My wife and I love to garden, cook local food, and raise chickens.  I believe that the food you choose to buy and consume impacts the meals you prepare, the economy where it comes from, and your personal health.  That is why I think my employment at the Bring It Food Hub is a perfect fit. It not only pays the bills, but it reflects my personal beliefs and the lifestyle I want to uphold.

IMG_1484

I was hired at the Bring It Food Hub about three months ago, and it has been one of the most enjoyable places I have ever worked!  I get to stay active most of the day handling fruits and veggies; but more importantly, I get to hang out with the farmers who grow our food.  In fact, the other night I was having dinner with my dad and I had provided the desert (homemade peach ice cream), and I was proud to say, “Dad, did you know that I got to shake the hand of the guy who grew these peaches this morning?”.  I think that many of us take our food for granted, and it’s humbling to see the person who was working hard that morning to grow and deliver the food I’m going to eat.

As much as I try, I’m NOT as productive with my garden as I’d like to be; but when I have extra veggies, plants, or eggs, I try to give as much as I can to my friends and family.  That’s another aspect of my life that is very akin to my job.  The Bring It Food Hub has a Pay It Forward Program where people buy a CSA with the sole purpose of donating it to someone in need of fresh food that they wouldn’t be able to buy on their own.

Last Friday, I took some Pay It Forward bags to a food pantry that distributes canned goods and typically doesn’t have fresh fruits and vegetables.  When I pulled up, there was a man who was distressed, underweight, and a diabetic who had recently suffered a heart attack.  I was told that the man was desperate, and specifically asked for fresh produce, and that it must have been fate that I showed up when I did.  It was amazing to see the direct benefit of our donation, and it reminds me that the work we do really helps people in our city.

Members of the Bring It Food Hub and Memphis Tilth who own chickens; myself included, have donated dozens of eggs to pair with the Pay It Forward donations.  Eggs are a great source of nutrition, and I would encourage anyone who raises chickens to help donate any eggs when possible.

I can’t overstate how great it is to have the job I have; to be doing work I believe in, and to make a difference in the city where I live.

Bring It Food Hub’s The Cannery to Permanently Close This Fall

Press Release from Bring It Food Hub

By Melissa Dison
Operations Manager of Memphis Tilth
June 11, 2016

Memphis, TN – Bring It Food Hub will dissolve this Fall to become a program of the newly formed nonprofit, Memphis Tilth, and shift its focus to operating a community kitchen, rather than a commercial kitchen.

The Tennessee Department of Health recently awarded Bring It Food Hub funding to begin a community kitchen at Advance Memphis this September. Advance Memphis is a local nonprofit that supports economic development for the lowest income zip code in the nation, 38126. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Bring It, Advance Memphis, and the 38126 community. Most of the food cooked will be sourced from gardens right outside of the community kitchen, cooked by and served to members of the surrounding neighborhood.

The Cannery will support current clients until September 1, 2016, at which point the commercial kitchen equipment owned by Bring It Food Hub will be transferred to the new community kitchen. Bring It Food Hub cannot accept new Cannery clients at this time due to the transition; we appreciate your understanding.

Bring It Food Hub will move into the new Memphis Tilth Headquarters space at 575 Suzette, Memphis, TN 38126 by this November. 694 Madison, where the food hub is currently located, will be available to rent after November 30, 2016.

Other commercial kitchens in the Memphis area include the following:

Delta Cuisine Commercial Kitchen
West Memphis, AR
www.deltacuisine.org

Crosstown Concourse – Church Health Center Commercial Kitchen (opening early 2017)
Memphis, TN
www.crosstownconcourse.com

Contact Information:  
Bring It Food Hub
694 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38103
localfood@bringitfoodhub.com

###

The Bring It Food Hub Team Grows

Bring It Food Hub is excited to welcome two more staff members for the CSA season: Jim Brown and Rob Coleman.

FullSizeRender

Jim Brown, Food Hub Driver 

Jim joins Bring It Food Hub again for his second season as a food hub driver. Jim V. Brown III is a native of Chattanooga and moved to Nashville in 2005 to start working for Nashville Homeless Power Project in 2006. Jim started out as a volunteer and in 6 months, he was the Outreach Coordinator. After serving in this position, Jim knew that this was the work he wanted to do. He studied at American Baptist College and has now been an advocate for 8 years. Jim felt like something was missing so he moved to Memphis and began working at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center at the fundamental grassroots level with Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality.

FullSizeRender (1)

Rob Coleman, Food Hub Assistant
rob@bringitfoodhub.com

Rob Coleman was born and raised in Memphis, TN.  He studied biology at the University of Memphis, and later went on to work in a genetics lab that researches crop carrot and the native, endangered Whorled Sunflower.  He spends his time gardening and feeding his friends and family dishes that are inspired by local food.  He is an avid naturalist with a special interest in insects. He also has backyard chickens and maintains a vast backyard edible garden and landscape.

Welcome New Bring It Food Hub Staff!

Bring It Food Hub is excited to welcome new staff, Josh Conley and Hilary Hodus. Josh Conley will serve as the new Food Hub Manager and Hilary will serve as the Food Hub Assistant.

Profile

Josh Conley, Food Hub Manager 
josh@bringitfoodhub.com

Josh Conley grew up surrounded by agriculture in Northeast Arkansas and developed an early love for local food in his father’s garden and his mother’s kitchen. He moved to Memphis in 2013 to pursue a masters degree in City and Regional planning from the University of Memphis. As an Housing and Community Development Fellow he worked with the Memphis Landmarks Commission and the Chief Administrators Office to create and protect places that matter to everyday life. In the South Main neighborhood of Downtown Memphis, he worked to open the 387 Pantry, a boutique grocery store which sourced products from upwards 50 farmers, makers, and artisans from Memphis and the Southeastern US. He has had original recipes featured in Imbibe magazine, Liquor.com, and various brand publications. A proud resident of Downtown, Conley is the founder of Sandlot Memphis, a neighborhood based pickup baseball league.

FullSizeRender

Hilary Hodus, Food Hub Assistant
hilary@bringitfoodhub.com

Hilary Hodus has lived in Memphis for nearly 11 years. Before joining the team at Bring it Food Hub, she was a volunteer for local organizations and wore a variety of hats as a mother of two – animal wrangler, chauffeur, entertainment director and head chef are just a few. Her customer service skills were honed at various retail jobs and her green thumb has grown along with the number of crops she tends in her backyard garden. She shops at as many farmers’ markets as possible in her never-ending search for the most delicious peaches and tomatoes. Hilary is excited for the addition of bread, cheese, eggs and flowers to the weekly CSA delivery and likes taking photographs of the produce delivered to Bring It Food Hub.