New Program Offers Grants to Food Deserts

Filed under: Food Distribution,Seen and Heard |

fruit and vegetablesMore than 23 million Americans across the country live in so-called food deserts, which have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. Happily, transportation and distribution of fresh healthy food to these areas will be improved via grants from two major distribution and conservation players.

CSX and The Conservation Fund teamed up to create a program that will help farmers and distributors deliver to fresh food to these under-served communities.

CSX is a leading supplier of efficient rail-based freight transportation in North America. The Conservation Fund is a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that balance environmental and economic needs

Grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 will be made available to entities that distribute fresh produce/perishable food in the 23 states where CSX operates. The grants can support a range of activities related to transportation such as:

  • acquiring refrigerated vehicles for direct delivery to markets;
  • financing “veggie vans” to bring fresh food to isolated communities;
  • providing better access to food hubs or other sites where produce, dairy, seafood and meats can be stored safely for distribution; or
  • purchasing produce boxes and cold storage bins to keep unsold food fresh for the next day’s farmers market or wholesale purchase.

“This program provides a lifeline to Americans who struggle to make fresh food a part of their daily meals,” said Kris Hoellen, vice president of sustainable programs for The Conservation Fund. “With CSX’s help, we’re connecting our most vulnerable populations to healthy, fresh food by addressing local gaps in food distribution systems. Efficient distribution of healthy food also means more effective use of natural resources required for sustainable agricultural practices.”

“This program truly demonstrates the power of partnerships, drawing on the strengths of both CSX and The Conservation Fund to identify solutions that serve the communities in which we live and work every day,” said Tori Kaplan, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSX. “Facilitating fresh and healthy food distribution to underserved communities is exemplary of CSX’s core value of right results, right way.”

Grant applications are due by October 1, 2014. To download a grant application and see more information about the program, visit or contact Margarita Carey

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