Format: Innovation Briefs

The COVID-19 pandemic created disrupted supply chains in many industries. Since 2020, it is not uncommon to visit a grocery store and see a lack of meat products. Though many factors contribute to these shortages, processing capacity in large facilities was reduced by labor shortages. Processing facilities are designed to have human labor efficiently working with machinery. While these spatial layouts allow processors to scale up their activities, they also force workers into close…
CT Grown for CT Kids is a statewide grant program run through the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to help establish and further farm-to-school opportunities in CT schools. This grant program was first announced in late October 2021. It is slated to have another application period later this summer, with a total of $725,000 in two years from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding….
Leveraging the Collective Strength and Wisdom of Remote Communities While there are several similarities to food system disruptions across communities, islands like Puerto Rico and its municipality, Culebra are presented with unique impacts and challenges when it comes to securing their supply chains. This innovation brief focuses on examples from Puerto Rico and shows how decentralizing supply chains can move food more equitably using diffuse, and therefore more resilient, infrastructure. This work is often…
Farm to School in Iowa was first legislated in 2007, when lawmakers established a program to one, link elementary, secondary, public and non-public schools with Iowa farmers; two, provide schools with fresh and minimally processed Iowa-grown food for inclusion in school meals and snacks; and three, encourage children to develop healthy eating habits and provide them with hands-on learning activities. A coalition was formed to unite stakeholders, which continued meeting and networking through 2019….

NAFDMA Agritourism Association

Agritourism operators developed timed, ticketed entry systems to manage the flow of visitors. These systems were often mediated by online platforms. By restricting visitor capacity, farm operators could better allocate resources to create safe conditions for visitors….

Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

Tribal nations collaborate through coordinating entities, such as the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) to develop policy-based innovations while supporting new programming and sharing best practices. Important areas of work during COVID-19 include targeted efforts to expand livestock processing facilities, coordinating the development of model food and agriculture codes for tribal nations, and reconfiguring food aid and distribution programs for elders and children….

Farm To Institution New England and National Farm To School Network

Communities with existing farm to school initiatives and multi-agency collaboratives were able to quickly pivot to provide urgently needed food access while re-investing local, philanthropic, and federal dollars into a local food economy reeling from pandemic disruptions. It is precisely because of community-scale networks and ongoing partnerships (rather than large scale or consolidated efforts) that initiatives highlighted in this brief were able to provide hundreds of thousands of pounds of locally produced, fresh, and…

Farmers Market Coalition

Farmers Markets were compelled to alter their models in a variety of ways at the onset of the pandemic. They conformed to social distancing guidelines and other public safety requirements which allowed them to remain open and continue serving vendors and customers safely and effectively. Some changed to contactless drive-thru or curbside models, where customers pre-ordered products online or by phone and picked it up in their vehicle. Others opted for crowd control measures…

National Association Of State Departments Of Agriculture Foundation

State departments of agriculture are working with federal agencies, corporations, and nonprofits to purchase food surpluses from farmers to distribute at food banks. This brief explores the unique strategies and partnerships four state departments of agriculture have used to develop and administer these purchasing programs….

National Farm To School Network

Farm to school activities support local agriculture, while also providing nutrition and agriculture education. Special events, like Apple Crunch days, offer an opportunity for students to learn about local produce in a fun, engaging way with their friends and school communities. Typically, Apple Crunch events happen during the school day and involve field trips, taste tests, and biting into local apples. Since many schools are operating virtually, due to the pandemic, and meal programs…

Farmers Market Coalition

During 2020, FRESHFARM, an organization that manages farmers markets in the Washington, D.C., area, piloted a relatively low-cost device that counts the number of pings from mobile phones as they connect with a Wi-Fi network. This technology does not reveal any of the phone owner’s identifying information, nor does it collect data from phones. Instead, these counts provide a way for farmers market managers to estimate the number of visitors and their length of…

Farm to Institution New England

This brief highlights how healthcare facilities implemented and expanded local food initiatives during the pandemic as a means to effectively feed and care for healthcare constituents while also investing in the local food economy. Specifically, by leveraging existing partnerships and value chains, healthcare organizations moved quickly to serve their stakeholders through onsite retail (e.g. grocery) locations and expanded community supported agriculture (CSA) or produce subscription programs while continuing to support local food producers whose…

LEE Initiative

To maintain these relationships, and to create the foundation for a more resilient restaurant industry, the LEE Initiative provided stipends to local farms in 20 regions across the U.S. to ensure continued food production for restaurants. These farmers were then given a list of selected independent restaurants that could purchase farm products on credit provided by the program. This allowed restaurants to lower ingredient costs while still acquiring local products, providing high-quality food to…

Wallace Center At Winrock International

Many hubs took elements of a Community Supported Agriculture model- which guarantees a market for farmers, provides customers a food box on a regular schedule, and strives to match the needs of farmers and growers. Local food hubs, even those that didn’t run CSAs, were able to collarborate with partners and use these models to manage this massive market shift. Hubs also had the advantage of highly developed logistics and last-mile delivery….
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