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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

Fayette County Community Action Agency’s Republic Food Enterprise Center

The Fayette County Community Action Agency (FCCAA) is turning challenges into opportunities --- and in the process doing a tremendous civic and social service to hungry families, local farmers and the community in general.

FCCAA recently launched the Republic Food Enterprise Center (RFEC), which is stimulating agricultural production, producing value-added products, distributing local produce and products, and developing retail outlets within food deserts throughout the region.

RFEC operates a food hub in Republic, Pa., with a large aggregation center where folks sort, wash, package, and stabilize local produce. The center also operates a shared-use kitchen where farmers and local entrepreneurs can utilize the certified kitchen to produce value-added products such as jams, jellies, sauces or, healthy frozen meals. Farmers also utilize the RFEC shared-use kitchen to co-pack a variety of specialty products with a small minimum batch requirement.

Value-added products are a win-win for the food system. They help farmers utilize their entire crop, eliminating waste and increase profitability. The creation of these products also ensures that healthy products are available to everyone, no matter what the season.

RFEC is closing the gap from farm to table, sourcing local produce from multiple farms in Western Pennsylvania, a region that is demanding more locally-grown and healthful processed food every year. This innovative center ensures that healthy, sustainable, local produce and products are available for the community.

Additionally, this spring, RFEC is launching the “Local Eats, Local Treats” buying program, that is similar to a CSA as well as a mobile farm stand. This is critical because the surrounding community is considered a food desert, where no fresh produce is available within ten miles. By launching these retail ventures, the center aims to eliminate food desert through Fayette County while also creating 40 new full-time positions; 30 of which will be filled by underserved Fayette County residents.

RFEC is benefitting small farms, helping to eliminate food deserts and putting to work local residents --- offering healthy food and a healthier way of life.

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