CSX and The Conservation Fund, partners in a program aimed at improving the transportation and distribution of fresh, healthy food to communities in need, announced today grant awards to 10 charitable organizations in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Tennessee. Each organization will receive $10,000 to enhance food delivery services so that they can bring fresh, nutritious food to their communities.
In many underserved communities food distribution organizations, such as food pantries, encounter difficulty getting fresh, healthy food. Many producers and organizations also face challenges retaining quality and safety as they sell, store, package and distribute fresh food. As a result, more than 23 million Americans across the country have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood.
As a leading supplier of efficient rail-based freight transportation in North America, CSX recognizes the integral role that transportation plays in connecting communities.
"At CSX, it's our job to connect communities through transportation every day, so we are proud to work with The Conservation Fund to support the local distribution of healthy and fresh food across many of the communities where we work and live," said Tori Kaplan, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSX. "Partnering with local organizations helps us live our commitment to improving the health and wellness of communities across our 21,000 miles of track."
The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that balance environmental and economic needs, has partnered with CSX to help address gaps in local food distribution and enhance delivery capabilities.
"With CSX's partnership, we're not only helping to connect America's families to fresh fruit and produce but we're also supporting our local farmers and working farms," said Kris Hoellen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs at the Conservation Fund. "The Healthy Food Transportation Grant Program is a clear win for American families and farmers."
The grant program supports organizations that distribute fresh produce and perishable food in the 23 states where CSX operates. Combined, the 10 recipient organizations provide nutritious food to approximately six million people per year, bringing nearly 118,000,000 pounds of food equaling 98,000,000 meals served each year.
Capital District Community Garden, Troy, NY
Capital District Community Garden will use its grant to purchase loading dock equipment for its expanded food hub distribution center, the Urban Grow Center. This will allow the organization to double the amount of fresh, affordable produce reaching urban food deserts. Capital District Community Garden has cultivated a gleaning food rescue program called Squash Hunger. They also have two mobile product markets known as the Veggie Mobile and Veggie Sprout, which sell fresh wholesale-priced product at 32 low-income inner-city market stops and an urban farm, as well as programs serving corner stores and small institutions.
Chattanooga Area Food Bank, Chattanooga, TN
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank will use its funding to purchase two manual foot pedal clipping machines and associated supplies allowing them to efficiently bag bulk produce in smaller, easier to handle sizes. The organization leads a network of partners in eliminating hunger and promoting better health in its region. It purchases fresh food from local farmers in bulk since most of its partner agencies do not have the capacity to accept, transport, store and distribute 50 pound bags of potatoes, for example, nor do elderly clients and children in need have the ability to transport and cook 50 pounds of potatoes. The new machinery will allow them to package food in smaller quantities. Underserved and vulnerable populations will benefit from increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and the Food Bank's increased buying power will support local farmers and food systems.
The Deep South Community Agriculture Network (DSCAN), Darien, GA
DSCAN will use its grant to acquire a refrigerated truck, and insurance for aggregation and cooling space for products produced by a network of value chains in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. DSCAN is comprised of six organizations working to develop chains in the following three sub-regions: Southeast Alabama, the Mississippi Delta and a two-state sub-region of West Alabama and East Mississippi. The organization works to help African-American farmers achieve financial success. It sees agricultural value chains through capacity support, coupled with first-hand agricultural knowledge and deep relationships across communities, as a means for black farmers to combine their resources to overcome these barriers by fulfilling the increasing demand for local food in the region.
Farm Share, Inc., Homestead, FL
Farm Share will use its award to acquire more donated food from farmers and businesses throughout Florida and nearby states and transport it into Florida communities to feed more low-income households. Food Share is a charitable packinghouse dedicated to distributing nutritious food for people in need. It administers a combination of produce recovery operations and USDA commodity programs, and works within a network of nearly 1,000 community groups to help distribute food to those who need it most in the state of Florida year round. The agencies receive food from Farm Share warehouses and sister organizations in Homestead, Quincy, Jacksonville and Pompano Beach, Fla., located in the heart of local farming areas. Food Share also does daily direct-to-community food distribution to Florida's food deserts and impoverished neighborhoods.
Feeding America Tampa Bay, Tampa, FL
Feeding America Tampa Bay will use its grant funds to purchase a forklift to support its warehouse operations and thereby increasing its capacity to load, move, and transport additional fresh food over its service area (10 counties - 9,300 square miles) in West Central Florida. The organization acts as the main hub for emergency food supplies, distributing perishable and nonperishable food throughout 10 counties of West Central Florida: Hillsborogh, Pinellas, Pasco Polk, Citrus, Sumter, Hardee, Highland, Manatee and Hernando. Its mission is possible by redirecting food that would otherwise be wasted, and providing it to organizations that can safely distribute it to those in need.
Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, Comstock Park, MI
The organization will use its grant to purchase a Refrigerated Straight Truck which will expand its program capacity and broaden mobile pantry distribution to additional individuals within communities in need of fresh food in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank's Mobile Food Pantry is particularly effective in areas where there is inadequate "hunger infrastructure," such as a lack of food pantries or pantries that are limited in hours or refrigerated store capacity. The Refrigerated Straight Truck will bring 21 additional new distributions of fresh food annually to more than 7,000 underserved, food-insecure individuals in the Upper Peninsula by January 2017.
Food Pantries for the Capital District, Inc., Albany, NY
The grant will be used to order a greater quantity of food to support product and meat distribution to 53 food pantries serving 45,000 vulnerable and underserved people. The organization's food pantries fill a gap by providing a minimum of three days' worth of nutritious grocery items for many people on a monthly basis in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties.
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
Gleaners Food Bank will use its grant fund to purchase six 600-quart and one 200-quart portable food chests to increase portability and distribution of frozen protein items and fresh foods and produce to food-insecure residents through the Gleaners Mobile Pantry program and senior programming, including the pilot Senior Mobile Pantry program. Each Mobile Pantry truck is typically loaded with more than four tons of flash frozen meat, fresh product, dairy products, and high quality shelf-stable items. Clients "shop" for food items, preserving their dignity and ensuring the food they receive will be eaten.
Grow Appalachia, Berea, KY
The grant will be used to purchase a truck and refrigerated trailer to serve as a Grow Appalachia food aggregator, delivering perishable produce from Kentucky to markets and other hubs of distribution. Grow Appalachia supplies financial aid and technical support to 43 nonprofit organizations and will use their refrigerated truck to collect product from its growers in Kentucky and deliver it to markets, food hubs, and other centers of distribution.
Lake-to-River Food Cooperative, Youngstown, OH
The grant funds will be used to purchase a delivery vehicle for transporting products from member farms and processing facilities to Lake-to-River Food Cooperative locations. Lake-to-River Food Cooperative serves people, schools and workplaces in need within food deserts in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties. The cooperative has a weekly delivery to four to eight schools, ensuring that students have the chance to eat at least one healthy meal each day. One hundred percent of Youngstown schools offer free lunches.