Ben Earle is all about using innovative approaches to solve organizational and community problems.
The executive director of Feed the Need in Durham, Ontario, enrolled in UVM’s Food Hub Management Certificate Program in 2018 to help gain a deeper knowledge and hands-on training on the role and place of food hubs in the food system.
The UVM food hub certificate, the first of its kind in the North America, launched five years ago. The program offers an innovative blend of hands-on, community-based, online and in-person learning designed to prepare students for managing food hubs.
Earle, whose background is in community development and applied research, joined Feed the Need in Durham in 2015 as the organization’s executive director.
Feed the Need collects and distributes food to nonprofit organizations in Durham that have programs to address food security in the community. Currently, the organization distributes food to 62 nonprofit organizations in Durham, providing them with the equivalent of 456,000 meals for those who face hunger in the community.
Earle’s role as executive director includes strategic leadership to the organization and overseeing all day-to-day operations, including logistics and warehousing, inventory management, and revenue development.
“The UVM Food Hub program helped me understand where Feed the Need fits in the food system, and what our role is as part of supply chain,” he says. “I learned how to enhance the organization’s role in the community and solve problems. We’re moving away from operating as a charity to being an organization that is part the food system.”
Earle says the program also helped him understand the challenges he saw within the organization and clarify his role.
“I had questions, I had problems,” he says. “The UVM program shined a light on the answers.”
UVM’s Food Hub Professional Certificate Program is heading to Michigan in 2019 as part of a new partnership between the University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.
Residential session dates for the 2019 UVM Food Hub Professional Certificate will take place in Kalamazoo, Michigan on March 4-8 and Nov. 4-8.