CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville’s City Schoolyard Garden has a new way to boost healthy food distribution.
The group used money from a recent Conservation Fund grant to buy a truck. City Schoolyard Garden hosts garden programs at eight schools.
Outreach Program Director Aleen Carey says the new truck brings new opportunities to the program. “This helps us purchase our first ever vehicle for the organization, so what that means is that we can move around to our different sites and transport plants, compost, move all of those things around so it’s really helping us to not have to use our own vehicles.”
The nonprofit will be having a seedling giveaway on Thursday in its urban 6th Street Garden near Monticello Avenue and 6th Street.
The Conservation Fund Press Release:
ARLINGTON, Va. (May 6, 2020)—The Conservation Fund today announced the grant recipients for the Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food. Nine charitable organizations located in Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Virginia will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 to improve their capacity to store and safely deliver fresh, healthy food in their communities.
Over the last six years, the Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food, sponsored by leading freight transportation company CSX, has provided funding to 74 local food producers and distributors. The funding has supported their operations and efforts to purchase and expand vital infrastructure like mobile markets, cold storage units, packaging material and more to better store, pack, transport and ultimately improve community access to fresh produce, dairy, meat or seafood. Overall, the grant program is projected to enable local food distribution organizations to collectively serve an additional 377,987 families with nearly 50 million pounds of food and increase the number of meals provided by more than 40 million.
“CSX is proud to partner with The Conservation Fund on this important initiative to promote the distribution of fresh, healthy food to those in underserved communities,” said John Kitchens, CSX’s director of community investment. “The Fund’s Transporting Healthy Food grant program has given nourishment to thousands of families, while strengthening local food producers and some of our most vulnerable communities.”
This year’s funding will allow the nine recipient organizations to collectively serve an additional 92,000 families with nearly six million meals.
"The funding provided by CSX and The Conservation Fund will expand the outreach and efficiency of our programs dedicated to connecting local families in need with locally sourced fruits and vegetables,” said Andrew Zucchino, executive director of TRACTOR Food and Farms, a new grant winner in Burnsville, North Carolina. “A new vehicle means increased deliveries to food pantries, remote distribution locations and potentially even homes across western North Carolina. Our organization is very appreciative of this opportunity to offer greater flexibility when reaching our client base."
The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that balance environmental and economic needs, has partnered with CSX since 2014 to address gaps in local food distribution and find local partners who can help enhance delivery capabilities in Washington, D.C., and the 22 states where CSX operates. They have also partnered in the past to restore critical habitat at two national wildlife refuges through the donation of more than 13,000 trees.
“Local food distributors play a critical role in the health of children and families, and each year are dealing with increased demand. We are honored to support their efforts to ensure that fresh, healthy food is available to the communities they serve,” said Katie Allen, director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network. “We are exceptionally grateful for our partnership with CSX and applaud the company’s commitment to farmers, churches, towns, cities, neighborhoods, and community groups working to supply fresh food to people who need it, and as a result supporting healthier lifestyles.”
Buffalo Go Green Inc., Buffalo, New YorkBuffalo Go Green is a non-profit urban agriculture business that provides services and training to the underserved populations in Western New York, including programing for students in K-12 grades, nutrition education and urban farming. The nonprofit will use the grant to purchase a walk-in cold storage unit to support its initial infrastructure building efforts for the Western New York Food Security Network.
Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED), Bridgeport, ConnecticutThe Center for Food Equity and Economic Development of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport builds community wealth through innovative food-based initiatives. The grant will support its FEED initiative that focuses on transitioning food pantries and soup kitchens into hybrid retail and donation environments with a commitment to community input. The Center will purchase vacuum sealers, food processors, and packaging and delivery equipment.
City Schoolyard Garden, Charlottesville, VirginiaCity Schoolyard Garden cultivates health, academic exploration, environmental stewardship, equity and community through garden-based, experiential learning and leadership development for Charlottesville youth. The nonprofit hosts garden programs at eight Charlottesville City public schools. It will use the grant to purchase a truck to distribute food and equipment from eleven growing locations to six community food markets.
Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Raleigh, North CarolinaThe Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a non-profit organization that has provided food for friends and neighbors facing hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for 40 years. The Food Bank is an affiliate member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger relief charity, and it works every day to provide food to people in need while building solutions to end hunger in our communities. The organization will utilize the grant to purchase food storage and food safety equipment, including produce bins, thermal blankets, totes, scales and thermometers.
Franciscan Friars - Our Lady of the Angels Province, Inc., Ellicott City, MarylandLittle Portion Farm, a program of the Franciscan Friars Conventual, is a regenerative farm that donates 100% of its organically grown produce to The Franciscan Center of Baltimore. A social services organization, the Center’s hot meal program serves more than 150,000 meals to the community each year. Little Portion Farm will use the grant to purchase a walk-in cooler as well as storage bins to preserve its fresh produce until it is delivered to the soup kitchen at the Center.
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc. Indianapolis, IndianaGleaners Food Bank of Indiana supplies items to hunger relief agencies and schools throughout 21 counties in central and southeastern Indiana. A member of Feeding America the nation’s food bank network, Gleaners has distributed over 360 million pounds of food and critical grocery products to nearly 600 hunger relief agencies and partners serving Hoosiers in need. The grant will be used to further Gleaners efforts to modernize its fleet with the purchase of five refrigerated box trucks over the course of the next three years.
NorthWest Initiative, Lansing, MichiganThe NorthWest Initiative (NWI) is a non-profit organization working to strengthen and sustain healthy communities in the north, west and downtown areas of Lansing. Its Outreach Program operates the Lansing Mobile Farmers Market (MFM) that takes and sells fresh and affordable fruits, vegetables, honey, maple syrup and baked goods to low income housing complexes and local venues in the northwest quadrant of the city. Its Food Systems Project offers a school garden-based nutrition education program that partners with Lansing area schools to provide quality, effective nutrition education programming for elementary aged students. NWI will utilize the grant to purchase a refrigeration unit for its MFM bus, a large cooler unit for its office, large container units, a pop-up tent, signage and folding tables.
The Filling Station, Pollocksville, North CarolinaThe Filling Station is a non-profit organization established by Pollocksville Presbyterian focused on providing unmet spiritual, nutritional and developmental needs for the residents of Jones County. The Filling Station serves the community as a food pantry and was a beacon of hope during Hurricane Florence. The nonprofit will use the grant to purchase a van to pick up food at grocery stores, church food drives, community events, and the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.
TRACTOR Food and Farms, Burnsville, North CarolinaTRACTOR is a non-profit food hub working with farmers in Western North Carolina to make sure money stays in the community and everyone has access to fresh local food. The organization has donated more than 10 tons of food to local food banks. TRACTOR will use the grant to purchase a used cargo van for distribution of fresh produce to food pantries and patients of health care clinics that have been prescribed to eat more fruits and vegetables by their doctors.