Beaver County non-profits working to combat food insecurity

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Beaver County is seen as a place of agricultural growth, but when you break down the numbers from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the food insecurity rate is more than 14%.

“Oftentimes food insecurity is something that gets addressed at a national level or somewhere not in our backyard,” Daniel Rossi-Keen, the Executive Director of RiverWise, said.

But non-profits in Beaver County are working to change that with a new state grant.

“Imagine a place where farmers, food businesses, chefs, residents all could come together and have all the pieces of a food system in one space,” Rossi-Keen said.

That includes growing the food, importing food from farmers, a distribution center and a kitchen to even output products. That is the idea for this community food hub.

“There’s jobs connected to this, obviously if you do this kind of work in the community it’s very likely to attract other businesses into the community and reputational benefits,” Rossi-Keen said.

A hub is not a new concept, but each one is different. In Lancaster County, a hub acts as a distribution site for people in need. In Southern California, one hub focuses solely on getting fresh local produce to neighborhoods and businesses without it.  In Portland, Maine, another serves up to 2000 hot meals a day for local centers.

The options are endless as Beaver County works to decide what is the best fit as the planning and design get underway.

“Educational benefits, a place where residents come and learn about what to do with produce or how to be in the kitchen and those skills,” Rossi-Keen said.

The grant is for one year so after an official design is put in place, the groups will start looking for partnerships and funding to actually open the hub.

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