May 17, 2017

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. —The Conservation Fund today announced the grant recipients for the On Track with Healthy Foods grants program, sponsored by CSX. Nine community- and faith-based groups will receive grants to increase access to healthy foods in vulnerable and underserved communities in the Twin Counties. 

The On Track with Healthy Foods grants program was created to enhance the delivery capabilities of food producers, processors and distributors in Nash and Edgecombe Counties, as well as improve the availability of fresh produce and perishable foods. The nine grantees will use the funds to acquire equipment and resources needed to sustain food quality and safety as they sell, store, package and distribute more than 1.7 million pounds of fresh produce, meats, seafood, dairy and other foods to nearby consumers annually.

“The organizations selected for the On Track grants are doing critical work in the Twin Counties to provide triple-bottom-line benefits that integrate environmental stewardship, community economic development and social justice to address the challenges facing distressed areas,” said Mikki Sager, vice president and director of Resourceful Communities at The Conservation Fund. “We will continue to work with the grantees, providing technical assistance and capacity building, to help them expand their efforts to make healthy, fresh food affordable and accessible to everyone.”

“CSX is proud to partner with The Conservation Fund in support of the On Track with Healthy Foods grant program to improve access to healthy food choices in communities that are underserved,” said John Dillard, CSX resident vice president for state relations. “This national partnership with the Fund provides CSX an opportunity to effectively leverage its resources at the local level to address the areas in Nash and Edgecombe Counties that are most in need.”

Track One Grants

Grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, have been awarded to:

Conetoe Family Life Center
The Conetoe Family Life Center was established in 2007 to improve the health of young people and the community by increasing access to healthy foods, increasing congregants’ physical activities and providing access to health services. The Center will use the grant to leverage federal funding from the USDA’s Rural Community Development Initiative in order to expand and replicate its programs with multiple churches for the benefit and empowerment of community members in Nash and Edgecombe Counties. 

Nash Community College
Nash Community College will use the grant to support its Healthy Campus Initiative, which focuses on providing healthy food options at the campus cafe and building capacity to preserve food donations. This project will install equipment that will enable the Midway Cafe to display and serve healthy, affordable hot and cold meals, as well as reduce food waste on campus by preserving breads baked in the culinary program classes and distributing them through the United Community Ministries.

A Touch of the Father’s Love
A Touch of the Father’s Love in Battleboro provides a faith-based food pantry for residents in need. The group will use the grant to purchase a refrigerated trailer that will enable them to pick up donations of a broader variety of healthy foods, including produce and dairy, and distribute them to over 2,050 households in Nash and Edgecombe Counties.

United Community Ministries
United Community Ministries (UCM) in Rocky Mount is a non-profit organization composed of local religious, governmental and private supporters who are committed to addressing the needs of the homeless and nearly homeless populations in Nash and Edgecombe Counties. UCM increases food security and reduces food waste by picking up surplus, “best by” produce and other foods from local restaurants, grocery stores and Walmart and distributing the foods through eight community and faith groups, senior housing facilities, shelters and community kitchens. The organization will use the grant to upgrade a box truck used for food distribution to food insecure individuals. 

Track Two Grants

Grants ranging up to $40,000, supporting efforts involving three or more groups working together to strengthen food value chain connections from field to fork, have been awarded to:

Tarboro Community Outreach, Inc.
Tarboro Community Outreach (TCO) is a non-profit agency that serves needy families and individuals in Edgecombe County. In a region that has been plagued with a number of natural disasters and economic hardships, TCO gives support to people in need by offering a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and transitional housing facilities serving communities countywide. The agency will use the grant to purchase a pickup truck and will work in partnership with two food banks, Interfaith Food Shuttle, four grocery stores, the USDA and several trucking companies to provide enhanced nutrition education and food distribution of over 570,000 pounds of food per year to vulnerable residents.

Opportunities Industrialization Center Family Medical Center
Opportunities Industrialization Center Family Medical Center (OICFMC) in Rocky Mount provides comprehensive employment, training, business and health services that strengthen opportunities for people in local communities. OICFMC will use the grant to provide healthy fruits and vegetables and nutrition education for at-risk and diabetic patients in Edgecombe and Nash Counties. It also will purchase locally-grown healthy produce from Conetoe Family Life Center, and support healthy food production in Rocky Mount Housing Authority’s neighborhood gardens. 

Project Momentum
Project Momentum of Rocky Mount will use the grant to support the Twin Counties Families Understanding Nutrition (FUN) project, which will provide locally grown food for 100 low-income residents who are diabetic or pre-diabetic with companion nutrition education. Project Momentum will provide vouchers for produce purchases and will partner with Conetoe Family Life Center and other farmers to provide locally-grown produce. They will also use the grant to provide workshops and healthy cooking classes with Impact Center, Voices of Women Servants and the Community Enrichment Organization.

Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corporation
Since its inception in 1988, Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corporation (RMECDC), has served as an economic development engine for Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties by creating jobs, helping residents obtain and retain home ownership, providing small business counseling and helping citizens build a better quality of life. RMECDC will use the grant to develop infrastructure for the Fresh and Healthy Food Marketplace at the 30-acre retail and business park, Crossing at 64. In partnership with Operation Spring Plant, Solomon's Farm 1942, Conetoe Family Life Center and the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations, RMECDC will coordinate mobile markets, food trucks and a stationary area for farmers to park and sell fresh fruits and vegetables on the mixed-use site.

Working Landscapes
Working Landscapes creates more sustainable livelihoods for people through stewardship of natural and cultural assets. The organization will use the grant to support What's Growing On, a new farm-to-fork value chain supporting low-income populations in Nash County through collaboration with educational institutions. Equipment, including a mobile culinary lab, will be purchased to process and provide sweet potatoes and specialty sweet potato foods to Head Start childcare centers and public schools, in partnership with Down East Partnership for Children, Nash Community College and Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. 

In July 2016, CSX joined the State of North Carolina and Carolinas Gateway Partnership in announcing Rocky Mount, North Carolina, as the home for the Carolina Connector intermodal rail terminal, which will serve as a major transportation hub in the Southeastern U.S. and a catalyst for economic growth. Recognizing that limited access to fresh produce, dairy, meats, and seafood is an issue for many in Edgecombe and Nash counties, CSX made addressing this critical need an immediate priority and created the On Track with Healthy Foods grants program with The Conservation Fund.  

About CSX
CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. For nearly 190 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation’s economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population resides. It also links more than 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports with major population centers and farming towns alike.  More information about CSX Corporation and its subsidiaries is available at www.csx.com. Like us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/OfficialCSX) and follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/CSX).  

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 7.8 million acres of land. Our Resourceful Communities program helps communities strengthen programs and build connections to support healthy people and places. Like us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ResourcefulCommunitiesCommunities 

Contacts:
Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org