The Hawthorne All-Stars have spent a lot of time this year exploring different components of the food system. We’ve talked about the food system as being comprised of six different parts: 1. Plant growth and harvest, 2. Processing and Packaging, 3. Transportation, 4. Distribution, 5. Food Access, & 6. Consumption & Waste. By looking at each of these parts, the Hawthorne All-Stars are working towards assembling a neighborhood food distribution plan for the fruits and veggies grown in Hawthorne.

Most recently, we visited the Coop Partners Warehouse in St. Paul. Coop Partners is a wholesale food distributor servicing retail food coops, natural food stores, and restaurants with fresh (and mostly organic) food, much of which is grown locally (defined by Coop Partners as grown in Minnesota or one of the bordering states: North & South Dakota, Iowa, or Wisconsin. Coop Partners supports Youth Farm’s year round programming by making produce nearing the end of its retail shelf life available to Youth Farm through its food bank program.

Last Tuesday, eight Hawthorne All-Stars traveled out to the Coop Partners, and spent over an hour touring the warehouse and hearing first hand about the food distribution phase of the food system. Among other things, youth learned more about what makes fruit and veggies “organic,” that Mangoes are the most distributed fruit worldwide (NOT bananas, although bananas are the most distributed in the U.S.), and that it is possible to distribute “local” produce year round (even in Minnesota) by storing root vegetables at the proper temperature and humidity.

By the end of the school year,  the All-Stars will have put together a food distribution plan based on their own experiences and interaction with the food system, and will answer the questions: where do we want our food to go? and how are we going to get it there? We are excited to see what they come up with!