The National Good Food Network was 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.
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 was 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 brought 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 engaged the philanthropic community in improving food access for all communities throughout the nation. The network was 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 and partners envision a food system where:
The NGFN supported this vision by cultivating:
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.
National Good Food Network online hub: NGFN.org served 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. NGFN.org has since been retired and resources migrated to the Food Systems Leadership Network online platform.
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.
Value Chain Development: NGFN provided 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 had 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 GroupGAP protocol, still in development.