Help Start Central PA's Food Hub - App Food Works!

Have you heard?
A food hub is coming to Centre County! Appalachian Food Works is a farmer-focused non-profit food hub working to build a more equitable food system by providing Central Pennsylvanians greater access to food grown and raised in Central Pennsylvania.
What is a food hub?
A food hub aggregates and distributes fresh, locally raised and grown food to the people who live closest to it. 
Why a food hub?
 - Enable small and mid-sized farms to increase revenue
 - Increases access to fresh, healthful food
 - Create and sustain local businesses
 - Fight food insecurity
 - Facilitate regional stakeholder network
 - Bolster local agricultural economy
 - Create jobs

What will the $5,000 we raise from this campaign go toward?
Your generous donations will go toward our administrative start-up costs such as website hosting & insurance. In addition, we will use these funds toward purchasing cooler bags for transportation of product, working capital to begin purchasing beef that will be distributed to local restaurants, purchase of a freezer, packaging, promotional materials and advertising.  

Executive Summary - 

Appalachian Food Works (AFW) will operate as a 501(c)3 in the commonwealth of PA, and will broker, aggregate, package, store, and distribute locally grown and raised products to local markets (e.g., restaurants, stores, schools, institutions).  For the purposes of this initial phase, we are defining “local” as Centre County and surrounding counties.

This “food hub” will work to maintain each farm’s brand identity and assist with education and mentorship should a farm choose to diversify. Additionally, an effort will be made to increase food access in central PA to low-income and rural households. Furthermore, an agriculture and food business incubator will eventually be incorporated into the physical home for operations.


Ensure food grown and raised in central PA gets into the stomachs of those who live in central PA, with a focus on creating a more equitable food system starting with the farmer.


Phase One of this concept will initially focus on restaurants near State College who wish to buy meat and dairy from area farms.  Subsequent phases will include a direct-to-consumer component, as well as selling products to schools, hospitals, retirement homes, and other institutions. Expansion of product line will include produce (both fresh and frozen), eggs, and poultry processing and sales.

Other future aspects of AFW could include a commercial test kitchen, giving food entrepreneurs the ability to test recipes and make small batches of product, thereby creating a one of a kind food incubator in Centre County. Further, we will evaluate the demand for private label, value add products such as a line of frozen vegetables.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. ​Why did you choose beef as a starting point for the food hub?
A. ​There are a couple of reasons why locally raised beef makes sense to be our first product. First, there is less seasonality with beef, meaning we are able to have a constant supply throughout the year. Along those lines, beef and dairy farms make up an abundance of our agriculture economy and are highly prevalent throughout our region. Also, by buying locally sourced beef, you are shortening the supply chains, mitigating many of the environmental impacts that go along with commercially raised beef that would otherwise likely come from some distance away.

Q. ​What do you mean by "local"?
A. ​There are various definitions for what constitutes locally sourced. Appalachian Food Works' initial mission is to support farms in Centre County, with a broader vision of eventually working with farms and markets throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Q. Will you only be dealing with farms & businesses in Centre County?
A. No. While the focus initially will be on supporting farms and supplying restaurants in Centre County, the longer-term vision of App Food Works is to work throughout Central Pennsylvania, from New York to Maryland.

Q. ​Why is it important to eat locally sourced food?
A. Agriculture is a vital component of our economy in Central Pennsylvania. We grow and raise enough food in Centre County to feed our entire population, but only 1% of that food is consumed here. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly important for us to understand where our food is coming from. By eating food that is grown and raised in Central Pennsylvania, we support our friends and neighbors while also having a knowledge of how our food gets to our tables.

Q. ​Why do I keep seeing #whatslocal on your social media posts?
A. ​We are encouraging consumers to use the hashtag #whatslocal as a means of supporting local food when posting on social media. This could be done when posting a photo of a dish at a restaurant that includes locally sourced ingredients, when attending an event that has local food on its menu, or when supporting an organization that is actively promoting the local food economy. We will share posts that we see with the #whatslocal as a means to further promote our farmers, buyers, and the entire community.

Our dairy farms in Pennsylvania are in crisis. As big box stores begin to source milk and other dairy products from their own large operations, small and mid-size farms are feeling the crunch.  Please have a look at this Centre Daily Times article on the dairy crisis. Our immediate follow-up phase upon proving our initial concept will concentrate on assisting local dairy farms find new markets, or diversify into other products to help them stay in business.


"Centre County farms grow enough food to feed the county's entire population, but only 1% of the food grown here is consumed here.  By concentrating on shortening these supply chains, we will be able to provide more Centre County residents with fresher, more healthful food.  Furthermore, we must work to provide greater food access to the surrounding rural areas that are rapidly becoming more dependent on national chains to feed their residents." ~ Travis Lesser, Founder of Appalachian Food Works

Travis Lesser is the Founder and Executive Director of Appalachian Food Works. He is a 2001 graduate of Methodist University (NC) with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Professional Golf Management, and a 2014 graduate of Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business with an M.B.A. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship.  In addition to his work as an Adjunct Professor in Penn State’s cross-college Entrepreneurship Minor, he is also the co-Founder and CEO of Cityscape Farm Supply, a local startup that manufactures and sells elevated raised garden beds. A native Central Pennsylvanian, Travis lives in State College where he tends to his vegetable garden, and generally enjoys the vast array of outdoor activities that our area has to offer.


Appalachian Food Works in the news:

A New Food Hub Aims to Connect Local Farmers and Buyers -, 10/16/18 

Making Local Food Work - Provisions Magazine, 10/21/18

A ‘clearinghouse’ for local food is coming to Centre County. Here’s how it works - Centre Daily Times, 2/11/19

Donations (0)

  • Candice Bradley 
    • $15 
    • 7 mos
  • Michele Crowl 
    • $25 
    • 7 mos
  • Donald Hambrick 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
  • Judy McDonough 
    • $60 
    • 9 mos
  • Shawn Clark 
    • $100 
    • 9 mos


Travis Lesser 
State College, PA
Appalachian Food Works 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
Learn more
  • #1 fundraising platform

    People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more