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Our guest is Zach McMath, President of the Acadiana Food Hub and a native of Lafayette with a family history involved in the distribution of food. With a granddad who was a Tom’s Peanut salesman back in 1952, and parents who started M & M Sales in 1972, Zach has a clear understanding on how to move food from Point A to Point B. He’s also a ball of fire who is passionate in his zeal to help our community grow our unique food culture.
Zach is a man with a mission: a mission to create affordable opportunities and space for local food producers, caterers, and budding restauranteurs. Zach has worked tirelessly and expended his own resources to allow locals to sell their farm products and food wares while staying in compliance with the myriad of state and federal regulations governing the distribution of food products.
Commercial realtor Hammy Davis has served as an invaluable benefactor by providing the space at no charge and building the necessary infrastructure as Acadiana Food Hub builds its capacity and becomes sustainable. Hammy’s monetary investment and belief in Zach McMath have given the Acadiana Food Hub its wings to serve small business people who will never meet the investor who quietly helped launch this endeavor to support local vendors.
Awareness of the difficulties a small producer can face in accessing food from local farmers, as well as getting wares on the market legally, developed several years back when Zach and his former wife created Evolve juice. While the company utilized local produce from organic farmers with a mission to bring the healthiest and freshest food juice to the Acadiana market, it quickly became obvious that identifying farmers, passing inspection, and setting up a storefront created huge hurdles for the small business owner.
McMath identified three separate components that are necessary to effectively assist farmers and entrepreneurs who need a low-cost solution to get their business off the ground: The Acadiana Food Hub, The Acadiana Incubator Kitchen, and the Acadiana Commissary Kitchen.
Acadiana Food Hub is a non-profit business providing warehouse space for the storage and distribution of goods produced locally. Think of a one-stop shop for local businesses looking to develop and sell a product, or farmers who need a place to store their harvest to be ready for quick sale. WaitR has partnered with the Food Hub and you can order online to receive a shipment every Wednesday afternoon. The McMath Group will broker food sales and facilitate business relationships between food makers and food buyers (e.g. restaurants, grocers, food delivery services), as well guide the client to find affordable web developers and business
Acadiana Incubator Kitchen is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved space for artisans, who can rent the space as needed, to develop their products to sell in wholesale markets and retail businesses. Many vendors became painfully aware when Whole Foods opened that their goods could not be sold because they were being produced from the home kitchen; the law provides that a separate, professional kitchen which meets all state and federal guidelines be utilized when selling at retail. The Incubator Kitchen rents out space to facilitate the development of products by providing commercial kitchen equipment. Zach also assists the vendor in developing barcodes, labeling of the product, and other necessary steps to get the product on the shelf of grocery stores and markets.
The Acadiana Commissary Kitchen is a separate commercial kitchen space for the region’s food retail food producers, such as caterers, food trucks, and virtual restaurants, who need secure & certified space to run their business, and is the only one of its type in Louisiana that serves retail clients. Zach has prepared a tenant punch list which outlines all of the legal steps that need to be taken to set up a business and operate legally, which is available on their website. Waitr serves as a sales and distribution avenue for goods. For food truck business owners using the space, Acadiana Commissary Kitchen provides affordable and secure parking out back of the Hub and ensures access to clean water. Space is rented by the hour or month depending on the client’s needs. In essence, barriers to opening up a business are eliminated at low-cost.
Zach McMath is pouring his life into investing in our culture. Discover Lafayette is so proud to highlight this dynamic and committed entrepreneur who exemplifies our local wildcatter mentality!
The Acadiana Food Hub is located at 1811 N. University, Lafayette LA 70507. For more information, please visit http://www.acadianafoodhub.com.