How one organization is helping bring locally sourced foods to the underserved

Indiana Farm Hub Wins 500k

By Shauna Nosler | November 05, 2016
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This Old Farm in Colfax.
This Old Farm in Colfax. Photography courtesy of This Old Farm.

Farmers make food. They nurture livestock, tend to crops and supply food for people both near and far. Sounds easy enough. But, sadly, it’s not so simple.

“There’s a breakdown in the supply chain,” says Jessica Smith of This Old Farm. And Smith, along with her partners—Top Box Foods, a nonprofit bringing healthy, affordable grocery boxes to food-insecure neighborhoods in Chicago, and FarmLogix, an organization using proprietary technology to facilitate distribution, purchase and access to foods from the Midwest foodshed—is on a mission to change that.

The three companies formed a local food initiative called, “Team Leverage: Bringing it Home,” and late last week were awarded a $500k grant to help their collaboration succeed.

“Along with many others, we’ve been awarded USDA grants before,” said Smith of her food hub in Colfax, IN, “but to win the Food to Market Challenge, where there was only one set of winners is huge.” And she said it’s the vote of confidence that they’ll accomplish what they set out to, that’s equally as meaningful as the award itself.

“To be selected out of 24 organizations who all came together to help fix the supply chain problem in Chicago, and be voted as the single most likely to succeed in getting local food into the city—or any other metropolis for that matter—is an honor.

“There’s a mental barrier that exists making it next to impossible for people in the inner cities to access local foods,” said Smith. And the grant money gives some solid footing to provide this access.

The Food to Market Challenge $500k grant is awarded to a multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to re-conceive supply chain practices that limit the scale or efficiency of the Chicago region’s local and sustainable food market.

“Team Leverage: Bringing it Home,” offers boxes of healthy fresh foods, stocked with local products from This Old Farm’s network of growers and producers to underserved Chicago area communities. The boxes will be available to families in the Chicago public school system at a reduced cost. Smith hopes she can help facilitate a similar program with the Indianapolis public school system soon.

You can learn more about the project by watching this short video. And if you’d like to find out how you can help or are interested in investing, contact Jessica directly. Learn more about Jessica and This Old Farm in our upcoming Winter 2016 issue, available November 15 in various locations throughout the greater Indianapolis area, or by subscription.

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