Transporting Nutrition to Communities in Need

CSX-logo copyThe Conservation Fund’s tailored approach to conservation gives us the flexibility to work on our partners’ priorities. Our long- standing partnership with CSX demonstrates how we develop unique strategies to help businesses achieve sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals.


  • Connect CSX with local organizations to make the greatest impact in the places that need it most.
  • Educate youth about their connection to nature and encourage them to live greener lives.
  • Help communities along the CSX network that have little access to fresh, healthy food.


A partner since 2007, CSX and The Conservation Fund created a small grants program for transporting healthy food, aimed at improving local transportation and distribution of fresh produce, perishable food to communities in need across 22 states. As CSX efficiently transports agricultural products across its network, and The Conservation Fund protects the natural resources that food and fiber depend upon, the joining of forces to fill a gap in the local freight distribution of healthy food seemed a perfect pairing. In conjunction with the grant program, CSX also created a more targeted program in West Virginia that has provided increased access and funding for healthy foods for hundreds of at-risk children and families living below the poverty line in some of the state’s lowest income counties.

“With CSX’s partnership, we’re not only helping to connect America's families to healthy, fresh fruit and produce, but we’re also supporting our local farmers and working farms. The Fund works in communities across the country with partners like CSX to fulfill their conservation priorities through creative initiatives that protect and enhance landscapes where Americans work, play and experience our natural heritage.”

Will Allen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs, The Conservation Fund

In an effort to help reconnect children with nature, The Conservation Fund and CSX created a school curriculum unit that teaches kids about the environment, math, science and economics through real-world freight transportation scenarios. CSX has also helped restore critical wildlife habitat at two national wildlife refuges through the donation of more than 13,000 trees.

LarrysBlog 3 EzraGregg            
Over 23 million Americans have limited access to fresh food, due in part to an inability for the people growing the food to get their product to market. We're working with transportation leader CSX to bring fresh, healthy food to the places that need it most. Photo by Ezra Gregg.


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 local freight infrastructure to distribute fresh food to markets. The Grant Program for Transporting Healthy Food offers grants up to $10,000 to local government and nonprofit entities that distribute fresh, local foods in 22 states where CSX operates. These grants are used to address gaps in local food distribution by providing funds to enhance delivery capabilities with support for 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; and
  • purchasing produce boxes and cold storage bins to keep unsold food fresh for the next day’s farmers market or wholesale purchase.

Since the program’s establishment in 2014, grant funding is projected to enable recipient organizations to collectively serve an additional 150,000 families with more than nine million pounds of food and increase the number of meals provided by 4.5 million.  

In West Virginia, CSX and The Conservation Fund worked with the West Virginia Extension and Mingo County Diabetes Coalition to provide coupons and vouchers to thousands of children and families to help make locally-grown fresh foods more convenient for purchase, and give them hands-on training on how to cook, store and prepare seasonal fruits and vegetables. The West Virginia program has also offered financial assistance for mobile and school-based farmers markets, as well as classes on vendor recruitment, customer service and basic accounting to assist with the long-term viability of the farmers markets.

“The Conservation Fund’s trusted relationships with communities and proven experience in conservation have helped our company make a positive difference in support of the communities we serve. We’re honored to work with the Fund and excited by the success we’ve seen in our programs together to bring healthy foods to local communities.”

—Tori Kaplan, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSX

Looking Forward

The health of our children is one of our nation’s most pressing issues. This partnership is evolving and continues to draws on the strengths of both CSX and The Conservation Fund to address the systematic barriers to access healthy food for families by focusing on capacity building, economic development and access to financing, community planning, preservation of natural resources important to farmers, public health and science and technology.

Video: Connecting Food and Families in West Virginia