The Show-Me State is home to an abundance of resources, one of which has proven an underrated asset for USDA and its school food distribution costs. Can you guess what it is?
The answer lies deep underground in a huge manmade cave complex dubbed “SubTropolis.” This 5 million foot facility houses 50 businesses, including Missouri’s Food and Nutrition Services USDA food storage. That allows it to have the lowest-cost school commodities distribution system in the U.S.
USDA provides food for the program, including vegetables, fruit, dry goods and meat. SubTropolis maintains a stable temperature of 65 to 70 degrees F year round. That reduces refrigeration costs to just 22 cents to store an entire case of food.
“Missouri is fortunate to have cave storage available,” says Andy Dudenhoeffer, director of food distribution for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Not only do we save refrigeration costs, but having cave storage in the western part of the state and standard warehouse storage on the eastern side saves transportation costs for delivery.”
SubTropolis is the creation of the late Kanas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. With 55 million total square feet, USDA is not the only tenant. Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards, the U.S. Postal Service and more than 40 other businesses also use the space.
Learn more about the self-described “World’s Largest Business Labyrinth.”