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Plans for food hub, downtown DeKalb kitchen progressing

Category: Community News,
on 03/04/2016

Plans for food hub, downtown DeKalb kitchen progressing

Plans for food hub, downtown DeKalb kitchen progressing

Published: Thursday, March 3, 2016 4:15 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 4, 2016 12:02 a.m. CST
(Provided illustration)
By RHONDA GILLESPIE - rgillespie@shawmedia.com

DeKALB – Plans for a food hub that could include produce from farmers in a 50-mile radius of the city are advancing, with organizers outlining a plan for a potential summer 2017 opening.

"It's moved from an idea to being on a path to reality," Dan Kenney said about the facility. Kenney is head of a four-member committee that is working as part of the ProudlyDeKalb committee's America's Best Communities bid to establish the hub.

Kenney addressed the county board's Economic Development Committee this week, where he laid out long- and short-term goals for the food facility that is expected to be a fruit-and-vegetable supplier for nearby places, and even ones in Chicago.

“Right now, studies show there is a $25 million to $28 million impact market for local [distribution] to the Chicagoland area alone,” he said after announcing the start this month of a feasibility study.

He said 40 to 50 farmers and growers would be surveyed as part of the study, which would look to gauge how much they produce now and whether they could increase that production. Also, potential buyers would be queried to help determine demand.

Kenney said the food hub committee is working with the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies, students from the university's Springboard program and a consultant.

He explained that of the dozen farmers and caterers he’s already consulted, the idea for a community commercial kitchen — as part of the hub — has surfaced. It would include a shared space where other products the growers make, such as jams, jellies and salsas, could be prepared and sold.

While organizers are looking forward to the hub facility being located near Interstate 88, the commercial kitchen would likely be located in downtown DeKalb.