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Fallon Food Hub keeps expanding

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
The Fallon Food Hub relies on local produce and beef to fill a food box.
Courtesy of Fallon Food Hub

Since its inception more than four years ago, the Fallon Food Hub has grown into a viable operation that serves many communities in western Nevada.

Director Kelli Kelly recently presented an overview of the Fallon Food Hub at the Churchill Economic Development Authority Business Council’s monthly breakfast.

Established in March 2016, the Churchill Economic Development Authority said the Fallon Food Hub provides buyers to place their orders online and pick up their food baskets. The idea of the food hub is to support small farms and increase the security of the local food economy.

 “I love working with our local farmers,” Kelly said before she discussed the food operation.

Kelly manages a farmers market and subscription-based farm share program. Not only do local farmers produce thousands of pounds of produce, but Kelly also said residents also big contributors in food production.

“There is so much produce being harvested in people’s backyards,” she pointed out. “That’s amazing.”

      According to the Fallon Food Hub, a food-share program is where “local consumers buy a share into the farm – they support this year’s crop with money up front for a membership, and in exchange, each week during the growing season, they will receive a box of local, fresh, and seasonal produce directly from the farm.”

During 2020, she said 115,000 pounds of produce has been distributed to subscribers.

Receiving money from a CARES Act grant has also helped the Fallon Food Hub by being one of 13 funded projects. She said the grant money helps pay farmers, who received $55,000 out of the $83,000 grant, for their food. Kelly said 2,000 pounds a week was distributed beginning since early August and  about 150 boxes were handed out each week throughout the season.

“It’s amazing how much is produced in the valley and how much there’s to distribute in this program,” she said.

The food hub has been busy serving its customers during a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. So far, Kelly said the local operation has distributed 20,000 pounds of food in Churchill County and is servicing the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe for target distribution. By working with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Desert Farming Initiative, she said the Fallon Food Hub is ensuring food is sent to the Hungry Valley Indian Reservation north of the Reno-Sparks area.

The statistics are staggering for an operation that’s not even five years old. Based on this year’s statistics from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, the food hub distributes 1,597 weekly boxes of produce worth $41,522 an 1,568 bi-weekly boxes worth $40,768. The number of beef boxes totals 90, which translates to $5,580.

The box income from the same period has been solid, Kelly said. For example, spring and summer farm share (produce and beef) has generated $90,615. The winter farm share consisting of produce, beef and eggs has brought in $4,187, and the POP-up farm share added $5,356.

Kelly said the total gross income is $115,416, and food distribution impacts about 11,000 households. Kelly reviewed a Food Insecurity Survey which revealed about 67% of the 129 respondents said they worry about running out of food before buying more. Another part of the survey asked respondents if they have not been able to afford eating balanced meals such as a daily serving of fresh fruits and vegetables. Seventy percent of the respondents said not having a balance meal frequently occurs such as every month or sometimes for several months. Kelly said families have a high degree of stress wondering how the household head will feed the family.

During the year, Kelly said the food hub distributes to many communities in west-central Nevada. In Churchill County, she said the food hub partnered with Lattin Farms for pick up. For now, though, she said subscriber boxes and one-time boxes are on a distribution break until January.

Among the farms and ranches who participate in the Fallon Food Hub program are Lattin Farms, Pioneer Farms, Salisha’s Delicious, Sanford Ranch (beef) DFI, Holley Family Farms, Two Ravens Farms, Fisk Farms and Cherry Dog Orchard.

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