Local Inland Northwest Cooperative (LINC) is a farmer-owned coop serving the Spokane that provides fresh, locally grown product from small, regional farms who use organic growing practices. By supporting local farms, they are creating a more resilient local economy and providing fresh, healthy food to customers. To expand into the capital-intensive niche of minimally processed foods, LINC applied for an infrastructure grant from the USDA.
LINC Foods wanted to expand their offering of minimally processed food, which are food items that have been cut, diced, or chopped and/or frozen. To support these efforts, they applied for a USDA Grant to obtain funding to help build small processing infrastructure. The grant required a feasibility study and Measure Meant was asked to make a holistic case for the important role that LINC Foods plays in the community.
The feasibility study was vital because the USDA wanted to confirm that there is a viable market and that the funds will help to expand that market. By analyzing aspects of food markets, demand for organic food, health benefits of fresh produce (particularly for school children), social and environmental impacts of organic food, and impacts on the local economy, Measure Meant went beyond basic market signals to demonstrate the deep impact this grant would have.