Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Cathy Burns joined Nancy E. Roman of Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) for the closing of their virtual summit, PHA10: Accelerating a Healthier Future on April 28 to launch the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund. The program will provide a sustainable and tangible solution to help the nation address one of its most enduring challenges: food insecurity.
“PMA is honored to collaborate with the PHA to help reduce food waste, address hunger, and improve health and wellness at a time when one of our most basic human needs—access to fresh fruits and vegetables – is being threatened by disruptions caused by the pandemic. We are also fortunate to have our strategic partners at Brighter Bites lend their expertise and distribution networks to this great cause,” said PMA CEO Cathy Burns. “We remain driven to growing a healthier world and the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund is one way to do this.”
One in every nine people in the United States struggles with hunger, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation for those at risk. The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund will provide a direct answer to the nation’s food insecurity challenge by providing access to healthy food. The program will provide 22-lb boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, enough to provide the daily recommended serving requirements for a family of four for a week.
The COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund announced it will launch first in Denver, Colorado with $150,000 in initial funding from Novo Nordisk and an anonymous funder. The program will continue to grow in other cities as funders are identified.
“The unfathomable gap exposed by COVID-19 — between a glut of gorgeous produce and millions of furloughed workers and people in need — has to, and will be addressed,” said Nancy E. Roman, President and CEO, Partnership for a Healthier America. “And this partnership with PMA, supported by Novo Nordisk, seeks to fill that gap not only with much-needed fruits and vegetables, but with a companion suite of digital tools that allow families to begin building a habit and culture of eating for health in communities where that has been lost. Success will require many players to add to and build on the government’s distribution. This is a journey for the long haul.”
PHA and PMA will work together with other partner organizations like Brighter Bites to coordinate local activities including marketing and communication with at-risk communities and connection and coordination with farmers and distributors with surplus supply. The 22lb boxes equivalent to 50 servings of fruits and vegetables will be accompanied by education and digital support to help families integrate fruits and vegetables into their diets long-term.
“Brighter Bites is pleased to share our expertise with PMA and PHA as the Fresh Food Fund seeks to help build healthy communities in this time of great need,” said Rich Dachman, CEO of Brighter Bites. “In addition to our distribution network that can successfully deliver fresh fruits and vegetables and our blueprint of successful consumer education and outreach tools, we also have data that shows how interventions like these can lead to long-term changes in consumer eating habits and behaviors – meaning more families are getting the nutritious, healthy food they need now and are continuing to eat fresh produce in the future.”
Funds for the program will support the efforts to re-route the supply chain to reach at-risk communities while also maintaining safe standards and strengthening infrastructure to extend shelf life and access to fresh food.
Donations from the general public for the COVID-19 Fresh Food Fund can be made here.