This support from the PATH Foundation will allow us to open our next chapter here at 4P and grow upon the work we’ve been doing for the past five years.
— 4P Foods founder Tom McDougall
The Warrenton-based PATH Foundation on Monday announced a $1.2-million grant to 4P Foods to fund construction of a “food hub” at Vint Hill.
The grant will cover equipment, engineering and architecture plans, and some staffing for the new facility, PATH said in a press release.
A food hub manages the “aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 4P Food Hub will be the first of its kind in Fauquier, serving all of the PATH footprint, foundation President/CEO Christy Connolly said. Its construction will address issues with current food infrastructure, in addition to benefitting several existing nonprofit programs that focus on food and food insecurity, according to Ms. Connolly. The food hub also will connect local farms to regional buyers, including schools, health providers and food banks.
“Our community is heavily rooted in agriculture, but many of its residents lack access to fresh food,” Ms. Connolly said. “Food impacts all four of the PATH Foundation’s health priorities and plays an important role in overall community health. By improving access to healthy food, the food hub will play a key role in accomplishing our mission: to strengthen the health and vitality of our community.”
Kirsten Dueck, senior program officer at PATH, worked closely on the development of the grant and was impressed with the vision for the food hub.
“Good food is important for the health of our community, our economy, our schools, our neighbors and, above all, our farmers,” Ms. Dueck said. “In the past, we’ve seen promising programs struggle without a reliable, affordable way to get products from farms to tables. The 4P Food Hub is a game changer. We are excited about this collaboration with Tom (McDougall) and the great team at 4P Foods, and we look forward to the impact that it will have on our community.”
Mr. McDougall, founder and CEO of 4P Foods, believes that farmers deserve access to buyers that want the fresh food they produce, while consumers deserve equitable access to getting that food on their plates.
“Our farmers and our partners all share in the same belief that good, local food should be a right, not a privilege,” Mr. McDougall said. “This support from the PATH Foundation will allow us to open our next chapter here at 4P and grow upon the work we’ve been doing for the past five years.
“Together with our partners, we will be working hard to make sure healthy, local sustainable food can become the norm, not the exception.”
The food hub is also slated to benefit the local farming economy.
“The food hub will be a great resource for our farmers,” Fauquier Economic Development Director Miles Friedman said. “Agriculture is a key component of the Fauquier County economy and the food hub concept addresses several needs that can be constraints to the success of farmers in the region.”
Other community stakeholders also expressed support for the project.
“This is the best partner and the best concept we’ve seen for opening up markets for local products,” Fauquier board of supervisors Chairman Chris Butler said. “It’s going to be huge for future generations.”
Construction and renovation of the new food hub facility is expected to be complete in early 2020. 4P Foods already operates at Vint Hill, allowing individual consumers and institutional buyers to purchase local food through its website.