CSX and The Conservation Fund announced a program of grants aimed at improving the transportation and distribution of fresh, healthy food to communities in need. More than 23 million Americans across the country have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. One of the contributors to these so-called "food deserts" is the lack of infrastructure to distribute fresh food to markets.
As a leading supplier of efficient rail-based freight transportation in North America, CSX recognized the integral role that local distribution plays in bringing fresh food to the people who need it. Many producers and organizations are challenged to retain food quality and safety as they sell, store, package, and distribute produce and other goods to the communities they serve.
To support local distribution and help address this need, CSX and The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that balance environmental and economic needs, teamed up to create a program that will help farmers and distributors enhance their delivery capabilities.
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, please visit http://www.conservationfund.org/partner-with-us/corporate-partners/profiles/csx/ or contact Margarita Carey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSX is also working with The Conservation Fund on a program that is improving access to healthy food in five underserved counties in West Virginia – Calhoun, McDowell, Mingo, Roane and Wirt.
CSX has long been a supporter of The Conservation Fund's work. CSX has helped restore critical habitat at two national wildlife refuges through the donation of more than 13,000 trees and is helping reconnect children and nature with the creation of a school curriculum unit that teaches kids about the environment, math, science and economics through real-world freight transportation scenarios.