Peninsula food hub expands to Anchorage

The Kenai Peninsula Food Hub is expanding its reach to Anchorage with a weekly pickup in Spenard.

The new location will open July 8 at the Church of Love at 3502 Spenard Road, giving the hub a fourth location and marking the food hub’s first foray off the peninsula.

“Anchorage has a much bigger market due to the population,” said Robbie Mixon, Cook Inletkeeper’s local food coordinator and the food hub’s operations manager, in a phone interview Thursday.

The food hub, which opened two years ago, is a pilot project sponsored by Cook Inletkeeper that currently serves more than 650 active customers on the Kenai Peninsula with locations in Soldotna at the Christ Lutheran Church, in Homer at Alaska’s Berry Emporium and Seldovia on the dock at Seldovia Bay Ferry.

“Purchasing local products increases our region’s food security,” Mixon said in a release issued Thursday. “Food hubs open up a new opportunity for producers, at any scale, to sell directly to buyers and institutions who seek local products, but may not typically shop at farmers markets or farm stands.”

Currently, only one peninsula producer, Jackolof Bay Oyster Co. of Homer, plans on selling in the Anchorage area, according to Mixon.

“By all means, if people want to take their products up to Anchorage for the pickup day (they can),” Mixon said. “I’m not sure how cost effective that will be for them…(Oysters) are a higher priced items, so it’ll be worth it for them.”

The food hub will partner with local Anchorage business Arctic Harvest Deliveries to operate the Anchorage branch. Mixon said a lot of the other infrastructure was already in place due to current operations.

“There has been a lot of talks around Anchorage about starting a food hub, but not much action,” Mixon said. “We decided that we had already started the research and leg work, and had a lot of the administration in place already so it was pretty easy to scale up and duplicate it in Anchorage while sharing a lot of costs. It was pretty minimal to start it up in Anchorage.”

One thing Mixon hasn’t addressed, though, is the name Kenai Peninsula Food Hub.

“We’re looking for something that’s not going to be bound by a geographic location,” Mixon said. “Anchorage isn’t on the Kenai, but we’re going with it for this year … If anyone has a good idea, send it our way.”

The Anchorage location will be open for pickups Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. Currently, the Homer and Soldotna locations are open for pickups from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and the Seldovia location is open Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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