The National Good Food Network is an initiative of the Wallace Center working to scale up the supply of good food - food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable - into more retail, wholesale, and institutional markets, and provide greater access for traditionally underserved communities.
Structured as a network of networks, we are able to ensure efficient flow of information and innovation from boots on the ground projects to the national level, and back down to the grassroots level across the nation. Our trusted cadre of technical assistance providers bring their wisdom from diverse backgrounds to move toward our goals.
In the United States, it is still a challenge for many to access and afford food that is not only healthy but also produced in a manner that respects animals and the environment and supports economic viability for all those along the way from farm to table. The implications of this challenge are evident not only to those not able to access healthy and affordable food, but also to those concerned about public health and local economic development, who are working to build a new “Good Food” system: one that makes healthy, green, fair, affordable food an everyday reality in every community.
The Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network is designed to meet the needs of this Good Food movement by enabling the development of regional “value chains” – new systems of market relationships, that include refined processing and distribution infrastructures – to move more Good Food from farm to table at the regional level, and to enable regions to improve Good Food access in all communities throughout the U.S.
The National Good Food Network brings together diverse value chain leaders from nonprofit organizations and commercial enterprises interested in transitioning from traditional supply chain management to value chain management. The network also engages the philanthropic community in improving food access for all communities throughout the nation. The network is a connector and enabler, through knowledgeable models and access to funding, so that these groups can connect, learn, and work with each other toward their common regional Good Food goals.
The National Good Food Network, together with its advisory council and partners envisions a food system where:
- Supply meets demand: There is abundant Good Food – healthy, green, fair and affordable food – to meet demand at the regional level.
- Practitioners are supported by an information network: Those working for change have an information hub for finding and sharing new models, stories of success, and technical partners to inform their work.
- Good food moves efficiently from producer to buyer: Value chains are short and transparent, whether inter-mediated through a food hub, or sold directly.
- Rural and urban areas are linked through healthy food systems: Small and mid-sized farms are economically viable, and all communities have access to Good Food.
The NGFN supports this vision by cultivating:
- Connection: Fostering regional initiatives that will bring increased good food into conventional food systems in a way that will ultimately improve Good Food access for all communities.
- Knowledge: Assembling and connecting value chain models and best practices, value chain experts, and opportunities for regional funding in the marketplace with regional network participants.
- Partnerships: Bringing new voices to the food systems table, including funders, technical assistance providers, nonprofits and for-profits to enable more robust expansion of Good Food.
Since its launch in 2008, the National Good Food Network has seen tremendous success. The broader Good Food movement has benefited from a number of case studies, innovative models, webinars, funder guides, conferences, and a resource and technical assistance provider database.
Some highlights of the results of this work include:
National Good Food Network online hub: NGFN.org serves as the Network’s information hub, and provides access to a growing array of research, models, and tools for those dedicated to the challenge of moving more Good Food to more people, particularly in communities with little or no access. The popular webinar series highlights some of the best case studies and most innovative research. These are free to attend, and all are recorded and archived on the site’s webinar archive.
The NGFN/USDA partnership: The USDA collaboration has brought together practitioners and researchers from around the country to share and disseminate successful models of values-based food supply chain collaborations. This NGFN Knowledge and Research Initiative connects leading experts to advance work in their regions and nationally, through a series of workshops and discussions that will ultimately culminate in new resources and tools for on-the-ground work.
Together with the USDA and other partners, the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration is researching and documenting pilots that increase both grower efficiency and access to Good Food in their communities.
> Learn more at the Food Hub Collaboration, www.wallacecenter.org/foodhubcollaboration
Value Chain Development: NGFN provides training and technical assistance on a broad range of key value chain activities. Examples include: on-farm training (food safety, crop selection, packing, and grading), infrastructure development, connections between producers and buyers, market analysis, feasibility studies, and business planning.
Food Safety: The Network has a dedicated food safety coordinator, who serves as an in-house expert for on-the-ground work and navigating the complex policy landscape, as well as emerging innovations in food safety practices. Working with the USDA, the NGFN has fostered an innovative way to address food safety certification for small- and medium-scale producers by being certified collectively through a USDA Group GAP protocol, still in development.
> Learn more at www.ngfn.org/foodsafety
Financial and Business Training for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers: With an emphasis on working with the South, the Network has partnered with the Farm Credit Council to develop a toolkit of resources for those who train farmers on financial skills and business literacy. The NGFN has established a community of practice for trainers, to ensure that critical financial skills are effectively passed on to their students. The project also includes identifying gaps, and creating content to fill those gaps.
> Learn more at www.farmbiztrainer.com
Field Guide to the New American Foodshed: The National Good Food Network created a web-based tool (along with a comprehensive outreach program) intended to teach producers, and those who might offer them credit, about the wide range of business possibilities available in this new food marketplace. The tool is designed to allow multiple “information entry points” for all learning styles, and there is a strong emphasis on case studies to illustrate the points.
> Learn more at http://foodshedguide.org
Regional Lead Teams: Multi-organization teams across the country work with the NGFN to develop regional networks of nonprofits, businesses, government and philanthropies collaborating to share innovative models, offer a central focal point to Good Food participants in the region, and expand the field of those engaged in the good food system. The regional teams also mobilize efforts to increase the amount of Good Food into communities, particularly those with little or no access.
The National Good Food Network website is an online hub of resources connecting actors across the supply chain with tools, information, news, funding opportunities, and guidance on scaling up and increasing access to Good Food.