WASHINGTON and CHICAGO (April 09, 2019) – Millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity. To help food assistance agencies provide consistent access to nutritious food, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions Grant to Feeding America. This grant will evaluate the Regional Produce Cooperative model’s effectiveness in reducing food insecurity. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from Target, the University of Illinois, the Rachel Ray Foundation and Feeding America for a total $2 million investment.
“We are very excited about our new partnership with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research,” says Matt Knott, President of Feeding America. “This grant opportunity directly aligns with Feeding America’s strategy to increase access to nutritious food and reduce food insecurity through innovative distribution models which expand access to fresh produce in an effort to improve nutrition and support better health outcomes for people facing hunger.”
Feeding America established Regional Produce Cooperatives in 2017 to direct a greater variety of produce to food banks at a lower cost. Currently, seven Regional Produce Cooperatives are operating nationally and there is a growing demand for more. While the cooperatives have the potential to improve the quantity, variety and quality of food at food banks, Feeding America has not yet conducted rigorous evaluations to determine the program’s overall effectiveness.
FFAR’s grant will help Feeding America examine the effect of the Regional Produce Cooperative on the charitable food system. The research will use surveys and data analysis to determine the extent to which the Cooperatives decrease food waste, shorten the time between source and distribution and increase access to produce. Ultimately, the goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of Regional Produce Cooperatives to increase consumption of nutritious produce and decrease food insecurity.