Assessing Sustainability Priorities of U.S. Food Hub Managers: Results from a National Survey

Haniyeh Shariatmadary*, Sabine O’Hara, Rebecca Graham, Marian Stuiver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Food hubs have emerged as innovative alternatives to the conventional United States food system. As aggregators of small local farms, food hubs hold the potential to transform food production, distribution, and consumption, while fostering environmental sustainability and social equity. However, assessing their contributions to environmental sustainability and social equity is challenging due to the diverse structures and practices of U.S. food hubs. This study presents the findings of a national survey of food hub managers conducted in 2022 to assess the sustainability objectives and practices of food hubs across the United States. Our survey questions were designed based on a comprehensive framework of social and environmental sustainability criteria. Our results reveal that food hubs make valuable contributions in supporting small producers and providing healthy local food options. However, there is room for improvement in their environmental sustainability practices, as they only meet 47% of the defined environmental sustainability goals. Addressing food insecurity is a high priority for food hubs, although not their top priority, and many offer fresh food access to low-income households. Food hubs also contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing food transportation, promoting healthy food production methods, and minimizing waste. While food hubs meet 67% of the defined social sustainability goals, there are opportunities for improvement in reaching important institutional stakeholders and enhancing consumer education on healthy nutrition and lifestyles. Expanding technical assistance for farmers is also critical. By addressing these opportunities for improvement, food hubs can drive progress towards a more resilient and equitable food system in the United States
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2458
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2023


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