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Press Releases

2016 Press Releases

11/29/16 "I want to be involved for real." - Tyler Florence Joins Wholesome Wave's Board

Bridgeport, CT – November 29, 2016 – Wholesome Wave is delighted to announce its newest board member: the one and only Chef Tyler Florence.

Wholesome Wave’s CEO Chef Michel Nischan has been crossing paths with Tyler for years at culinary events and charity appearances and they’ve always hit it off. Two years ago Chef Florence—who has long thrown his fame behind food banks and other good causes—got on the phone with Michel to hear all about Wholesome Wave’s work making produce affordable across the country. He loved what he learned.

“Tyler was so stoked about what we’re doing,” recalls Michel. “He said, ‘How can I help? I want to be involved for real.’ He offered to join Wholesome Wave’s board and now it’s official.” (Florence even flew his crew to New York in April to work his magic for guests of Wholesome Wave’s benefit dinner.)

“Tyler is a creative chef with a great following—and he’s a great human being,” continues Michel. “We’re thrilled to add his powerful voice to the importance of what we do. Plus he’s based in California, where we have our new West Coast office and where we’ve launched our FVRx partnership with Target. So he’s perfectly positioned to strengthen impacts and expand our work. It’s huge.”

Stay tuned for news of what he’ll be cooking up with Wholesome Wave.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to make locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable for the people who need it most. When people can afford produce, they buy it. And when the millions of Americans struggling with poverty eat more fruits and vegetables, we see immediate improvements for families and farmers—and enormous long-term gains for public health, local economies, and the environment. Our innovative initiatives serve hundreds of thousands of under-served consumers, as well as thousands of farmers annually, in 46 states and counting. Wholesomewave.org |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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6/28/16 Wholesome Wave Awarded Youth Wellness Grant by Target to Support Affordable Access to Healthful Produce for Los Angeles Residents

Bridgeport, CT – June 28, 2016 – Wholesome Wave is thrilled to announce it has been awarded two grants from Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) for a total of $1.2 million as part of Target’s ongoing youth wellness efforts.

Wholesome Wave is a national nonprofit that inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to locally grown produce. Through this new partnership with Target, Wholesome Wave will launch the largest Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program to date in Los Angeles. Alongside clinical and nutritional counseling, the program allows healthcare providers to offer families “prescriptions,” or vouchers, for fresh fruits and vegetables that can then be redeemed at both Target stores and farmers markets. Wholesome Wave will also offer a competitive grant program to members of its National Nutrition Incentive Network to kick-start subsequent expansion initiatives.

“Helping Americans struggling with poverty is something the private sector needs to take on full-force,” said Michel Nischan, Founder & CEO of Wholesome Wave. “Our partnership with Target, coupled with our partnership with over 700 farmers markets across the country, will do just that. There’s no better way to express the spirit of our great country than through feeding those who are falling on hard times by helping consumers put fresh fruits and vegetables on the table.”

“At Target, we are committed to helping make wellness a way of life for our team members, guests and communities,” said Laysha Ward, chief corporate social responsibility officer, Target. “That’s why we are excited to partner with an impressive array of organizations who are already doing such important work to make an impact in the wellness space. Together, we will help remove barriers to wellness in our communities, working to increase the consumption of nutrient-dense food and physical activity of kids and families across the country.”

The grant is part of Target’s ongoing efforts to help make wellness more affordable, accessible and inspirational for its team members, guests and communities. Target also is partnering closely with local leaders and organizations in communities around the country who are experts in youth wellness and actively working to close the wellness gap for children. These efforts are part of Target’s long history of giving 5 percent of its profit to communities, which today equals more than $4 million every week.

Launching in June 2016, the  Los Angeles FVRx program will increase affordable access to healthy produce for 500 pediatric patients at the Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center (EPFMC) and their families. Families can redeem prescriptions at any Target store across the country with over 20 stores within the greater Los Angeles Area, in addition to participating farmers markets operated by Sustainable Economic Enterprises of LA (SEE-LA). Finally, the families of high need patients will also be able to participate in intensive nutrition education classes offered by local non-profit, Groceryships, for 20 weeks at no cost. More than 98% of EPFMC’s patients are below 150% of the poverty level, approximately 82% are Latino, and 34% are age 12 or younger.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 40 states and counting. Wholesome Wave reaches more than 150,000 under-served consumers, as well as thousands of farmers annually. Wholesomewave.org |  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at 1,792 stores and at Target.com. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit to communities, which today equals more than $4 million a week. For more information, visit Target.com/Pressroom. For a behind-the-scenes look at Target, visit Target.com/abullseyeview or follow @TargetNews on Twitter.

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6/8/16 Wholesome Wave Receives $500,000 Grant from USDA to Increase Healthy Food Access in Connecticut and Vermont

Bridgeport, CT (June 8, 2016) — Today, in the announcement of the second round of funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program, USDA awarded national nonprofit Wholesome Wave approximately $500,000 to increase affordable access to healthy food in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont through an innovative Farm-to-Grocery Nutrition Incentive model, which funds coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables that match the value of SNAP spent at participating grocery stores and increases locally-grown food those stores procure from nearby farmers.

Combined with an additional $500,000 from other funding sources, this project will amount to a $1 million investment in Connecticut and Vermont’s local food economies. Wholesome Wave will work with two community nonprofits, Hartford Food System and Green Mountain Farm to School, and eight local grocery stores, to help an estimated 5,000 people purchase more fresh produce. Participating stores will purchase approximately $122,0000 worth of regional produce from nearby CT and VT farmers. The project is expected to trigger $920,000 in SNAP and incentive purchases in just its first three years. Overall, this work will increase food access for low-income residents, support grocery stores as healthy food providers, strengthen local economies, and drive revenue to nearby farms.

“Wholesome Wave is thrilled by the innovations that USDA is supporting through the new FINI grants, which are taking the work of increasing affordable access to healthy food to even greater levels of impact,” said Michel Nischan, CEO & Founder of Wholesome Wave. “So many SNAP shoppers are working parents with limited time to source healthier food choices. Through the new Farm-to-Grocery model, our partners in VT and CT will be able to expand affordable access to SNAP consumers in a way that allows them to find and purchase more healthy food from a variety of retailers.”

Hartford, CT and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom both face high levels of poverty and are home to farmers seeking new markets for their healthful crops. Currently, 40% of Hartford’s children live in poverty and 42% of the city’s residents use SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Vermont’s rural Orleans and Essex Counties face similar challenges, with the highest poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity rates in the state. In the first iterations of healthy food incentives – which also match the value of SNAP spent – Wholesome Wave worked with local partners to offer them at farmers markets. By expanding healthy food incentives to grocery stores where many families already shop, this project will offer a promising solution to each community’s food access challenges. Wholesome Wave’s expertise in facilitating and scaling successful food access projects, combined with the local nonprofits’ experience within the communities, represents an ideal partnership to move this work forward. This project builds off Wholesome Wave’s existing work across 40 states and counting, including expansion through the large-scale FINI grant we received last year.

In particular, this year’s FINI grant expands on the successes of Wholesome Wave’s and partners’ efforts to pilot nutrition incentives in grocery stores in Connecticut and Vermont. In the first few months of 2016, Wholesome Wave invested in the Hartford, CT food system by providing SNAP consumers with $23,000 in nutrition incentives to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at two locally-owned grocery stores. During the program period, attributable at least in part to this project, SNAP sales at the local C-Town supermarket increased 7% and produce sales increased by 19% over the same period in 2015.

Executive Director of Hartford Food System, Martha Page, said: “As demonstrated in the pilot program, the SNAP Up! nutrition incentives are an excellent way to get more fresh fruits and vegetables on Hartford dinner tables. The enthusiastic response to the incentives by Hartford SNAP participants clearly shows that there is a demand for affordable, high quality produce. For our local farmers, this will represent a new customer base that they have not been able to easily access. We are so excited at the opportunity to bring Hartford area farmers and Hartford consumers together; we believe that we will prove that good food is good business!”

In its pilot year, the VT-based program demonstrated similar success. Almost $30,000 worth of produce vouchers were redeemed, with an astounding 93% redemption rate. A majority of participants said that the program allowed them to buy vegetables they otherwise could not afford. One participant noted: “I think it’s a wonderful program and it helps introduce people to fruits and vegetables that they normally wouldn’t buy because they don’t have enough money.” Katherine Sims, Executive Director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School, is enthused about the impact this additional grant will have: “The need and the want for fresh fruit and vegetables is clearly there in our communities. In the Northeast Kingdom, over a quarter of children are considered food insecure and don’t know where their next healthy meal will come from and through the grant we are glad that we’re able to help meet some of that demand. It’s also an opportunity to have those local stores source from area farmers and encourage participants in the program to purchase the local, healthy food that will help spur further economic growth in the region.”

National leaders emphasize how this new model will benefit their state’s economies, while increasing access to produce for low-income residents and improving the bottom line for regional farmers. “Increasing access to fresh, healthy food for the low-income residents of food deserts will help move our communities one step closer to ending food insecurity. The federal funding awarded to Bridgeport’s Wholesome Wave to help provide fresh produce to Hartford’s local grocers is an investment in an incredible partnership that will help ensure the well-being and health of Hartford’s residents,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut offered similar support and enthusiasm: “Just a few days ago, I was at Hartford Regional Market talking to local farmers and Hartford community leaders about better connecting local food to city grocery stores. This grant for Wholesome Wave is a great opportunity to make that happen. It just makes sense—we should help families afford locally-grown, fresh food at the grocery stores they already shop at. We worked so hard to get North Hartford its Promise Zone designation so that the city can hop to the front of the line when it comes to getting federal grants. Today shows why that’s so important.”

Connecticut’s representatives in the House have been supportive of the efforts to improve healthy food access in Hartford. “Too many in Hartford’s North End lack the most fundamental of human needs: fresh, healthy food. The energy needed to perform well in school or work comes from the food we eat, and no one in our country should ever be forced to go hungry. I applaud the USDA and Wholesome Wave of Bridgeport for recognizing the needs of Hartford. It is time to ensure affordable access to fresh, local produce in the North End,” said Rep. John Larson (CT-1). “Food deserts correlate very highly with areas of poverty across our country, and a lack of healthy and affordable food options can have a very detrimental effect, especially on children,” said Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4). “With this grant, we will be able to help more families eat nutritiously in Hartford and also support the excellent work that Wholesome Wave is doing right here in Bridgeport, creating innovative ways to bring healthy, local produce into more stores and kitchens.”

In addition, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the father of the Farm to School efforts in Child Nutrition Bills, supported Green Mountain Farm to School and Wholesome Wave’s FINI grant proposal with a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in December. “Last year I supported Green Mountain Farm to School and its partnership with Wholesome Wave as they piloted a new way to support families helped by SNAP to stretch their food budgets, while boosting the economic viability of our local producers. Pairing SNAP with incentives to use local Vermont fruits and vegetables makes sense, and it’s a winning scenario for everyone. I am proud that Green Mountain Farm to School in its partnership with Wholesome Wave again has been selected to continue its extraordinary work of connecting our children, farms and communities throughout Vermont and New England.”

Through this project, neighborhood grocery stores will become access points for fresh local produce, and experience increased revenues. Beyond direct impact to the community, Wholesome Wave will use this project to develop a replicable Farm-to-Grocery Nutrition Incentive model that we can spread nationally through our national network of over 110 organizations, promising impact on a national scale. Programs in Hartford and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom are set to launch in August.

About Wholesome Wave:

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 40 states and counting. Wholesome Wave reaches more than 150,000 under-served consumers, as well as thousands of farmers annually. Wholesomewave.org. Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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4/21/16 Wholesome Wave Raises Over $100,000 At First-Ever Benefit To Increase Access To Healthy Foods

NEW YORK ––  Wholesome Wave, the non-profit working to increase affordable access to local produce, raised more than $100,000 last evening, at the organization’s first-ever Wholesome Wave Benefit.  Founder of Wholesome Wave, three-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Michel Nischan honored his mentors, the late founder of Food & Wine, Michael Batterberry and the legendary Chef Jacques Pépin, for excellence in selfless culinary leadership in the spirit of making meaningful change. Additionally, Malique Harry, a young culinarian was presented the Jacques Pépin Mentorship Award.

More than 200 people attended the event at The Yale Club to support Wholesome Wave including Food Network star Tyler Florence, famed chocolatier, Jacques Torres, Chef and Restaurateur Seamus Mullen, and Chef Carmen Quagliata, all of whom prepared the meal with their protégées in honor of the night’s theme of mentorship. In keeping with Wholesome Wave’s mission, the menu highlighted local spring harvests, including pasture-raised meats by Fleishers Craft Butchery.

Chef Carmen Quagliata, Chef Jacques Pepin, Tyler Florence, Chef Michel Nischan, Jacques Torres and Chef Seamus Mullen holding the 2012 ONEHOPE Edna Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, with limited-edition label featuring a watercolor by Chef Jacques Pepin, benefiting Wholesome Wave.

Chef Carmen Quagliata, Chef Jacques Pepin, Tyler Florence, Chef Michel Nischan, Jacques Torres and Chef Seamus Mullen holding the 2012 ONEHOPE Edna Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, with limited-edition label featuring a watercolor by Chef Jacques Pepin, benefiting Wholesome Wave.

“It was completely humbling to see so many incredibly talented chefs come together in support of Wholesome Wave and in appreciation for Jacques Pépin” said Nischan. “Batterberry and Pépin, who both understood that food has more impact on human health, societal health, environmental health, community health, and economic health than any other single subject, have proven that the world could be made a far better place through the magic of food.”

“Wine Geek” Steve Olson brought thirteen sommeliers from top restaurants, all of whom helped pair and pour specially selected wines.  One notable wine that was poured with Michel Nischan’s course was the newly release private label wine benefiting Wholesome Wave, a 2012 ONEHOPE Edna Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, with limited-edition label featuring a watercolor by Pépin himself. The wine is available to purchase here: http://legacy.wholesomewave.org/wine/

The evening’s auction, hosted by Emcee Billy Harris, featured extraordinary experiences including a private dinner with Marcus Samuelsson and an exclusive experience with Wholesome Wave board member Tom Colicchio complete with dinner at Restaurant Wars on the “Top Chef” set. The auction raised a total of $50,250 for the charity.

All proceeds from last night’s event will benefit Wholesome Wave’s work nationwide, including nutrition incentive programs to match the value of SNAP (food stamps) spent at farmer’s markets and partnerships with healthcare providers to write innovative prescriptions for fruits and vegetables for low-income families at risk of diet-related diseases. The money raised was enough to cover the cost of 48 tons of carrots which will supply one serving a day to 480,000 children.

To access photos from last night’s Wholesome Wave Benefit, click here:
http://mm.gettyimages.com/mm/nicePath/gyipa_public?nav=pr392338875

About Wholesome Wave:
Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 40 states and counting. Wholesome Wave reaches more than 150,000 under-served consumers, as well as thousands of farmers annually. Wholesomewave.org. Facebook | Twitter |Instagram

CONTACTS

Media:
Erika Gable erika@thedooronline.com (315) 247-0217
Heather Muhleman heather@thedooronline.com (914) 299-5533
Gabrielle Langholtz | Wholesome Wave | gabrielle@legacy.wholesomewave.org

4/4/16 Longtime American Express Publishing CEO Ed Kelly Takes on New Role as Chief Expansion Officer of Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave, the non-profit working nationally to increase affordable access to local produce, announces that respected publishing-industry veteran Ed Kelly has joined the organization as its Chief Expansion Officer (CXO).

Kelly will apply his impressive track record of building, growing and revitalizing brands to the Wholesome Wave network. Founded in 2007 by James Beard award-winning chef Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave reaches over 150,000 low-income Americans nationwide, in 40 states and counting. By drawing on his deep relationships and developing innovative alliances, Kelly will identify and capitalize on opportunities to realize the next level of Wholesome Wave’s growth.

In his more than 25 years at American Express Publishing, Kelly led significant bottom-line growth by diversifying the portfolio through organic investment and global expansion, serving as CEO and President for nearly 15 years until its sale to Time Inc. in 2013. Kelly oversaw affluent lifestyle brands Travel + Leisure, Departures, Food & Wine, Executive Travel and Black Ink, including their respective print, digital and experiential initiatives.

But Kelly’s charitable commitments are as impressive as his executive cred. He serves as a board member of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club and co-founded The Kelly Gang, a group of fellow Kellys—including former police commissioner Ray Kelly, NY Post “Media Ink” columnist Keith Kelly and Hearst SVP Kate Kelly Smith—who have together raised over $700,000 for charity. Building on this legacy of charitable work, Kelly saw the full-time opportunity at Wholesome Wave as an obvious next step.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Michel and the Wholesome Wave team to accelerate the tremendous work done to date—to make local produce more affordable and accessible nationwide,” said Kelly. “I’m also excited to re-engage with the epicurean world I love and respect so much.” (Wholesome Wave has long been a charitable beneficiary of Food & Wine magazine.)

“Ed perfectly fits the new mold of innovation-and-growth executive,” said Craig Lomma, Wholesome Wave’s Chief Operating Officer. “He’ll bring powerful skills to Wholesome Wave as we embark on creating sustainable revenue streams to expand food access and affordability beyond what would have would have been possible in traditional ways.”

“Ed brings a high-level skill set to the Wholesome Wave family that will propel us into a more sustainable food future, from both a business and social impact perspective,” said CEO Michel Nischan. “His pedigree, as well as his established track record of innovation and collaboration, is a great fit for Wholesome Wave’s operating style. Ed brings the type of serious business chops that will serve us well as we look to significant growth in the field.”

About Wholesome Wave:

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 40 states and counting. Partnering with over 110 community-based organizations at more than 730 farmers markets, community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, Wholesome Wave reaches more than 150,000 under-served consumers annually. wholesomewave.org

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

CONTACTS

Media:

Erika Gable | The Door | erika@thedooronline.com | (315) 247-0217

Heather Muhleman | The Door | heather@thedooronline.com | (914) 299-5533

Gabrielle Langholtz | Wholesome Wave | gabrielle@legacy.wholesomewave.org

 

3/24/16 Wholesome Wave to Hold Benefit Dinner April 20

Five-Course Gala Dinner by Celebrity Chefs: Wholesome Wave Founder

Michel Nischan, plus Tyler Florence, Seamus Mullen, Carmen Quagliata and Jacques Torres

Evening honors Culinary Legends Jacques Pépin And the late Michael Batterberry

New York, NY (March 28, 2016) – Wholesome Wave, the non-profit working nationally to increase affordable access to local produce, is announcing its inaugural benefit, a five-course seated dinner by celebrity chefs on Wednesday, April 20th at The Yale Club of New York City.

The evening’s theme is mentorship, and Wholesome Wave’s founder, James Beard Award-winning Chef Michel Nischan, will honor his own mentors, Jacques Pépin and the late Michael Batterberry. Chef Pépin will also present the first ever Jacques Pépin Mentorship Award to an aspiring young culinarian chosen by C-CAP.

Each of the evening’s courses will be prepared by a different renowned chef: Nischan himself, plus Tyler Florence, Seamus Mullen and Carmen Quagliata, followed by dessert from famed chocolatier Jacques Torres, with drink pairings throughout by “Wine Geek” Steve Olson. In keeping with Wholesome Wave’s mission, the menu will highlight local spring harvests, including pasture-raised meats by Fleishers Craft Butchery.

The event will also feature Wholesome Wave’s newly released private label wine, 2012 ONEHOPE Edna Valley Reserve Pinot Noir with limited-edition label featuring a watercolor by Pépin himself. Billy Harris will host a live auction of extraordinary experiences including private dinner for six with Marcus Samuelsson, the renowned 20-session Technique course at the International Culinary Center, and an exclusive experience with Wholesome Wave board member Tom Colicchio complete with dinner at Restaurant Wars on the “Top Chef” set.

“It is so humbling to see so many incredibly talented chefs come together in their appreciation for Jacques, and in support of Wholesome Wave,” said Nischan. “Michael and Jacques have selflessly given so much to the food industry, and in ways that have made being a chef a true badge of personal pride and accomplishment. It’s a privilege to acknowledge their invaluable contributions by inspiring others to make the world a better place through food.”

The night’s proceeds will support Wholesome Wave’s work nationwide, including nutrition incentive programs to match the value of SNAP (food stamps) spent at farmer’s markets and partnerships with healthcare providers to write innovative prescriptions for fruits and vegetables for low-income families at risk of diet-related diseases.

WHERE: The Yale Club of New York City, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue New York, NY 10017

WHEN: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tickets begin at $375 and can be purchased here.

About Wholesome Wave:

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 38 states and counting. Partnering with over 90 community-based organizations at more than 550 farmers markets and dozens of community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, Wholesome Wave reaches more than 150,000 under-served consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers annually. wholesomewave.org

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

CONTACTS

Media:

Erika Gable | The Door | erika@thedooronline.com | (315) 247-0217

Heather Muhleman | The Door | heather@thedooronline.com | (914) 299-5533

Gabrielle Langholtz | Wholesome Wave | gabrielle@legacy.wholesomewave.org

Sponsorships & Table Sales

Margaret Wetzler | Wholesome Wave | margaret@legacy.wholesomewave.org | (415) 844-0071

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2/15/16 Chef Michel Nischan Welcomes All-Star Lineup of Celebrity Chefs to Willie Nelson's Private Ranch for the "Chefs' Pot Luck"

For Immediate Release

Event kicks off the Luck Reunion music festival with a Texas feast and exclusive performance by Willie himself benefitting Nischan’s nonprofit Wholesome Wave.

Tickets Now On Sale

Austin, TX – Wholesome Wave, a national nonprofit increasing affordable access to healthy food, announces tickets are on sale for Chefs’ Pot Luck, a culinary fundraiser held on Thursday, March 17th at the private ranch of music legend Willie Nelson. In the heart of Texas Hill Country, 45 minutes from Austin, the Chefs’ Pot Luck dinner will offer a panoramic countryside food-and-music excursion during the annual South by Southwest Festival. All proceeds from the star-studded event will benefit Wholesome Wave’s work to increase access to local produce in under-served communities nationwide.

Wholesome Wave’s co-founder and CEO Chef Michel Nischan, the highly accredited chef and 2015 James Beard Award winner for Humanitarian of the Year, will be joined by an all-star lineup of celebrity chefs including the proclaimed “Father of Southwestern Cuisine” Dean Fearing, the James Beard Award-winning Scott Conant, Food Network star Michael Chiarello and longtime sustainable food trailblazer John Mitchell. As the suns sets, the 225 guests will gather family-style at farm tables. The menu will highlight fresh, sustainable ingredients, including dishes such as “Willie’s Chili” by Michel Nischan, Scott Conant’s Fried Chicken, Dean Fearing’s Wood-Grilled Big Hunks of Meat with West Texas Mop, plus Campfire Cowboy Beans and Cornbread Pudding.

Wholesome Wave is proud to partner with Fleisher’s Craft Butchery and Niman Ranch to source the evening’s ethically delicious meats, and with Tito’s Vodka, a premier spirit brand that focuses on promoting sustainability and supporting local communities.

Singer/songwriter Aubrie Sellers will perform during the cocktail hour. Following dinner, guests will enjoy a private moonlit performance from Willie Nelson himself.

The Chef’s Pot Luck serves as a kickoff for the Luck Reunion, an exclusive daylong festival showcasing over 30 acts spanning country, rock, folk and soul on the iconic Luck, TX grounds on Friday, March 18.

Individual tickets for the Chefs’ Pot Luck start at $550 per person. For more information and to purchase tables or tickets, visit: http://luckreunion.com/chefspotluck/ or http://legacy.wholesomewave.org/luck/

Wholesome Wave has also partnered with CharityBuzz to auction two tickets to the Chefs’ Pot Luck which includes two seats at a prime table, meet & greet with the celebrity chefs and Willie Nelson, two reserved front-row seats for the Willie Nelson performance and two VIP tickets to the Luck Reunion music festival the next day on March 18. The auction goes live today, Thursday, February 4th. More info here.

About Wholesome Wave:

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 37 states and counting. Partnering with over 90 community-based organizations at more than 550 farmers markets and dozens of community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, Wholesome Wave reaches more than 50,000 under-served consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers annually. Learn more at wholesomewave.org

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

CONTACTS

Media:

Sophie Latapie | The Door

sophie@thedooronline.com

(917) 374 4266

Sponsorships & Table Tickets:

Margaret Wetzler | Wholesome Wave

margaret@legacy.wholesomewave.org

(415) 844 0071

 

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2/3/16 U.S. Congress Holds First-Ever Hearing on Healthy-Food Incentives

Innovative tool gaining ground – Hearing found that these incentives improve both public health and agricultural economies.

February 3, 2016 — The House Subcommittee on Nutrition today held its first-ever Congressional Hearing on Nutrition Incentives. The stated purpose was “to review incentive programs aimed at increasing low-income families’ purchasing power for fruits and vegetables.”

Nutrition incentives, an innovative idea first trialed a decade ago and now gaining momentum nationwide, encourage consumers to spend their federal nutrition benefits (SNAP, WIC, etc.) on healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, at farmers markets and grocery stores, by matching the amount the customer spends. The incentives have quickly won bi-partisan support as an effective way to reduce obesity and diet-related disease, while simultaneously increasing revenue for local agricultural economies.

In 2014 Congress passed the FINI (Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive) program which, through the Agriculture Act (aka Farm Bill), provides $100M over 5 years for SNAP consumers to purchase fruits & vegetables. In the first round of FINI funding, Wholesome Wave, a non-profit working nationally to increase affordable access to healthy foods, received $3.7M from the USDA for a $7.4M multi-year program to provide nutrition incentives and support for network members processing incentives across the country. These programs deliver the dual benefit of helping food-insecure families access much-needed produce while also directly supporting America’s farmers. Wholesome Wave facilitates the National Nutrition Incentive Network–-a national, peer-to-peer community of practice sharing technical assistance among the operators of 600 farmers markets, CSA and mobile markets nationwide, reaching about 100,000 customers annually.

The hearing demonstrated bi-partisan interest in making nutrition incentives work, and growing momentum around the innovative solutions they offer. Witness included representatives from non-profits, city governments, food banks and healthcare, as well as SNAP participants, who together demonstrated that, put simply, these programs work.

In her opening remarks, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski R-IN (Chair) explained, “What we are here to do today is to ask, ‘how can we incentivize and encourage people, particularly low-income families who are at a higher risk of malnutrition, to eat healthier?’”

The hearings focused on the role that incentives can play in improving health, especially for low-income people enrolled in the SNAP program. Multiple experts, including Congressman McGovern, referred to “food as medicine” and the hearing emphasized one major benefit of incentive programs: keeping people out of emergency rooms, and keeping health care costs down. McGovern even called for a Veterans’ farmers market nutrition program and for the VA to put farmers markets at more VA hospitals. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” said three experts, including McGovern. Michigan-based Fair Food Network CEO Oran Hesterman put it another way: “Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later.”

Wholesome Wave operates a collaborative project with Fair Food Network, and the two non-profits share a long history of partnering to expand the adoption of nutrition incentives nationally, as well as develop evidence on their impacts.

This hearing came on the heels of Tuesday’s House Agriculture hearing about the benefits of direct-to-consumer marketing, in which nutrition incentives can play an important role for producers reaching low-income consumers.

Some may see the Farm Bill as only relevant to rural America, but House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is laying the groundwork for the next version with an eye towards bolstering the urban-rural coalition historically needed to pass it.  A perfect example, nutrition incentives offer a double win: fresh produce for the Americans who need it most, and additional sales for America’s farmers.

Watch the hearing here.

Chef Michel Nischan, Founder and CEO of Wholesome Wave, and Gus Schumacher, the organization’s founding board chair and a former USDA Under Secretary, are available for comment on this historic, landmark discussion. Wholesome Wave is a groundbreaking non-profit dedicated to making fresh fruit and vegetables affordable and accessible in under-served communities through nutrition incentives.

Nischan and Schumacher, leading experts in affordable access to healthy food, can break down the main talking points regarding incentive programs that aim to increase low-income families’ purchasing power for fruits and vegetables. These points include but are not limited to:

  • The connections between Agriculture Direct Marketing (farmers markets, CSA shares, etc.) and Nutrition Incentive Programs like SNAP benefits (food stamps) and WIC programs – Wholesome Wave has helped over 100k consumers annually access fresh, local produce at farmers markets around the country
  • Wholesome Wave’s nutrition-focused programs:
    • The National Nutrition Incentive Network → offers technical support and capacity building to a national network of Nutrition Incentive providers.
    • Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program → works with healthcare professionals to prescribe produce to families at risk of diet-related disease.
  • How local farmers are exponentially benefitting from these nutrition incentive-focused programs across the country (more customers means more income for farmers)

For more information and to request an interview with Chef Michel Nischan, please contact Gabrielle Langholtz |gabrielle@legacy.wholesomewave.org or

Heather Muhleman | heather@thedooronline.com | 914-299-5533 or Sophie Latapie | sophie@thedooronilne.com | 917-374-4266

2015 Press Releases

1/7/16 Wholesome Wave To Host First-Ever Summit Transforming Food Access: Accelerating Affordability with Nutrition Incentives In Atlanta on January 11-13

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Gabrielle Langholtz/Wholesome Wave

gabrielle@legacy.wholesomewave.org

347-668-4323

Erika Gable/The Door

Erika@thedooronline.com

315-247-0217

Jan 7, 2016 – Wholesome Wave, a national non-profit increasing affordable access to healthy food, will host a sold-out summit in Atlanta next week, January 11-13. The three-day conference, Transforming Food Access: Accelerating Affordability with Nutrition Incentives, will cover a wide-range of topics on how nutrition incentives support a sustainable and equitable food system, especially in the low-income communities that need it most. The summit’s hashtag is also its mission: #fixfood.

This summit follows last year’s big national news on nutrition incentives: the USDA allocated $100 million through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program in the five-year Farm Bill to double SNAP (food stamp) purchases for fruits and vegetables.

The sold-out summit brings together over 300 practitioners and leaders from diverse organizations, businesses, institutions and government agencies. Together attendees will parse some of the food system’s most pressing issues and share best practices for national network programming, local program design, policy change and sustainability. Workshops and plenaries will focus on actionable steps to create, evaluate, sustain and scale high-impact programs. Confirmed speakers include Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, USDA; John Auerbach, Associate Director for Policy, CDC; and, Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at the White House.

Chef Michel Nischan, Founder and CEO of Wholesome Wave, said, “Usually when you bring together groups this diverse, there’s plenty to disagree on. But here’s one thing we all unite on: 50 million Americans need more affordable access to healthier foods. Too often, healthy food is beyond their budget. The artificially low price of an unhealthy diet conspires against public health, especially in low-income communities. Obesity and diet-related diseases cost the economy half a trillion dollars annually. Together, SNAP consumers spend more than $150 billion a year on food. When even a percentage of it is spent on local produce, we unlock enormous outcomes for the health of our diets, communities, environment, and local economies. Nutrition incentives create positive effects that benefit consumers and farmers, rippling across urban and rural communities.”

On Monday night, conversations will continue over a Chefs’ Potluck at Anne Quatrano’s Floataway Café. Joining Quatrano in the kitchen will be fellow culinary stars and sustainability pioneers Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, and John Mitchell.

The summit is sold out, but its organizers will live-tweet sessions. Follow the hashtag #fixfood and @wholesomewave on Twitter.

Summit sponsors include the Fresh Sound Foundation, Farm Credit Council, Kresge Foundation, Delta and media sponsor Modern Farmer magazine. And, special thanks to local host organization Wholesome Wave Georgia.

About us:

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit working to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires under-served consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies in 37 states and counting. Partnering with over 90 community-based organizations at more than 550 farmers markets and dozens of community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, Wholesome Wave reaches more than 50,000 underserved consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers annually. Learn more at http://wholesome.dcwdhost2.com

10/15/15 Millions in Grants to Incentivize Purchase of Healthy Food by SNAP Consumers Available from U.S. Department of Agriculture

MEDIA CONTACT:
Margaret Wetzler
Margaret@legacy.wholesomewave.org

For Immediate Release

October 13, 2015

(Bridgeport, CT) On Tuesday October 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that up to $16.8 million in grant funds will be available for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) competitive grant program to incentivize the purchase of fruit and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) consumers. The grants, administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), will be available to local, state and national organizations representing various parts of the food system through three categories of funding: (1) FINI pilot projects (awards not to exceed $100,000 in one year); (2) multi-year, community-based FINI projects (awards not to exceed $500,000 over no more than four years); and (3) multi-year, FINI large-scale projects (awards of $500,000 or more over no more than four years).

“FINI represents a tremendous, unprecedented opportunity to support the health of low-income Americans using SNAP. I commend Secretary Vilsack and the rest of the leadership at the USDA for their hard work to develop opportunities for increased access to healthy fruits and vegetables that simultaneously support the livelihoods of farmers throughout our nation,” said Wholesome Wave Founder & CEO, Michel Nischan.

Earlier in 2015, USDA awarded $31.5 million in FINI grants to 31 projects in 26 states, using the combined farm bill funds for the fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Wholesome Wave received a $3.77 million three-year FINI grant from the USDA to support expansion of Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs, increasing affordable access of fruits and vegetables for more than 110,000 SNAP consumers in 17 states and DC, establishing a minimum of 177 new incentive programs at direct-to-consumer outlets, and developing the first randomized controlled trial of incentive programs, while simultaneously benefiting more than 3,400 small and mid-sized farm businesses. The Agriculture Act of 2014 authorized $100 million for FINI between 2014 and 2018, including $35 million for 2014 and 2015 combined.

Since 2008, Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs has been increasing fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP consumers at direct-to-consumer markets. Today, Wholesome Wave’s network extends to work with nearly 89 community-based organizations at more than 550 direct-to-consumer markets in 36 states and D.C. Wholesome Wave facilitates and builds capacity for a national network of SNAP nutrition incentive programs, connecting and supporting healthy food practitioners across the country. Its network is a robust community of innovation and learning, linking incentive programs through uniform data collection and evaluation to support the expansion and adoption of incentives through policy.

For more information on the FINI application process, see the Request for Applications or this summary blogfrom the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Applications are due December 16, 2015. NIFA will host a webinar for applicants on October 14, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., EDT at http://nifa-connect.nifa.usda.gov/finip/.

To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

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Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it inspires underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies. Implemented nationwide in collaboration with community-based partners at farmers markets, community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, its initiatives reach more than 50,000 underserved consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers annually.

4/1/15 Wholesome Wave Receives $3.77 Million Grant from United States Department of Agriculture for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program Benefiting Food Insecure Americans, Local and Regional Farmers

MEDIA CONTACT:
Ashley Gaudiano
571-278-2711
agaudiano@legacy.wholesomewave.org 

For Immediate Release

April 1, 2015

 

Wholesome Wave Receives $3.77 Million Grant from United States Department of Agriculture for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grant Program Benefiting Food Insecure Americans, Local and Regional Farmers

(Bridgeport, CT) In an announcement today by Secretary Tom Vilsack of the US Department of Agriculture, Wholesome Wave received a $3.77 million grant from the USDA through the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program. With the required matching funds contributed by Wholesome Wave and partners, the funds represent a $7.4 million commitment to affordable food access. This three-year grant will support expansion of Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs, increasing affordable access of fruits and vegetables for more than 110,000 SNAP consumers in 17 states and DC, establishing a minimum of 177 new incentive programs at direct-to-consumer outlets, while simultaneously benefiting more than 3,400 small and mid-sized farm businesses.

Wholesome Wave’s grant is one of many announced as part of the larger $31.5 million allocated for the FINI grant program this year, a significant stride taken by the government to empower our nation’s most food insecure to make healthy food choices.

“It is an honor for Wholesome Wave to be awarded such a significant grant from the USDA. This funding will build the capacity of nearly three-dozen community based organizations in 17 states and D.C. to provide incentives for fruit and vegetable purchases for SNAP consumers and their families. It also supports a rigorous evaluation of incentives’ impact on fruit and vegetable purchase and consumption. I look forward to seeing the tremendous impact this funding will have in the lives of SNAP consumers and farmers,” says Wholesome Wave Founder and CEO, Michel Nischan.

Specifically, Wholesome Wave’s FINI Large-Scale Project will build the capacity of 32 sub-grantee community-based organizations that operate over 425 nutrition incentive programs in order to sustain their programs beyond the three-year FINI project, as well as to increase the number of SNAP consumers participating in incentive programs and the amount of SNAP dollars spent on healthy fruits and vegetables. Wholesome Wave’s project will also contribute to the evidence base on the impact of incentive programs. Using a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) research design, Wholesome Wave will conduct the first RCT on incentive programs, measuring the impact of selected incentive program innovations on SNAP consumers’ purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

In addition to receiving a $3.77 million grant for its Large-Scale project, Wholesome Wave is being allocated an additional $750,000 through its role as the sub-grantee on four additional FINI grant projects. Through a new partnership with the AARP Foundation, Wholesome Wave will serve as a technical assistance partner to provide capacity building expertise, as well as branding, marketing and outreach assistance for SNAP incentive programs in Mississippi and Tennessee. In Florida, Wholesome Wave will expand its RCT evaluation to 12 additional farmers market sites through a continued partnership with Florida Certified Organic Growers (FOG). Utilizing its retail and food hub experience, Wholesome Wave will also serve as a technical assistance provider to Green Mountain Farm-to-School (VT) and Maine Farmland Trust (ME), as both groups work to deploy SNAP incentives retail grocery outlets and aggregated CSA’s, respectively.

“This USDA SNAP nutrition incentive award is a watershed moment for me and my colleagues at Wholesome Wave. This initiative will provide our vulnerable seniors, disabled veterans, working poor and children on SNAP with the opportunity to access healthy, local fruits and vegetables provided by hardworking family farmers. I especially want to commend the leadership at USDA, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Chairman Frank Lucas, and the NIFA Advisory Committee who expeditiously reviewed grant applications. Funding was ensured in a timely manner, especially for the upcoming 2015 farmers market season,” says Gus Schumacher, Wholesome Wave Vice President.

Since 2008, Wholesome Wave’s national network of nutrition incentive programs has been increasing fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP consumers at direct-to-consumer markets. Today, Wholesome Wave’s network extends to work with nearly 80 community-based organizations at more than 500 direct-to-consumer markets in 31 states and D.C. Wholesome Wave facilitates and builds capacity for a national network of SNAP nutrition incentive programs, connecting and supporting healthy food practitioners across the country. Its network is a robust community of innovation and learning, linking incentive programs through uniform data collection and evaluation to support the expansion and adoption of incentives through policy.

Subgrantees on Wholesome Wave’s FINI grant project include: Heirloom Farmers Markets (AZ); Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, CSA Program (Washington, D.C.); Wholesome Wave Georgia (GA); Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (HI); Abita Springs Farmers Market (LA); Maine Farmland Trust (ME); Webb City Farmers Market (MO); Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (MO); No More Empty Pots (NE); On the Ranch Farmers Market (NV); New Hampshire Food Bank (NH); City Green (NJ); The City of Jersey City (NJ); Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga (OH); Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County (OH); Special Improvements District Public Services Association (OH); Fair Food Philly (PA); Farm Fresh Rhode Island (RI); NOFA-VT (VT); Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture (VA); Arlington Farmers Market (VA); Appalachian Sustainable Development (VA); Blacksburg Friends of the Farmers Market (VA); Fairfax County Park Authority (VA); Four Mile Run Farmers Market (VA); FRESHFARM Markets, Inc. (VA); Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) Inc. (VA); Old Town Farmers Market (VA); The Farmers Market.Co (VA); Williamsburg Farmers Market (VA); Fondy Food Center (WI); Eastern Area Health Education Center (WV).

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Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, it enables underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. Its innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies. Implemented nationwide in collaboration with community-based partners at farmers markets, community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets, its initiatives reach more than 50,000 underserved consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers annually. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

2/3/15 Lightlife and Wholesome Wave Partner to Provide Access to Affordable, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Underserved Communities

Contact:

Kelsey Revens

360 Public Relations

617-585-5794

Lightlife continues its heritage of giving back 5% of profits to causes that benefit a better planet and healthier lifestyles.

TURNERS FALLS, MA (February 3, 2015) – Lightlife, a pioneer in plant protein and vegetarian eating, today announced a partnership with Wholesome Wave, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system for everyone. Providing underserved consumers with access to affordable, fresh, local fruits and vegetables, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health among low-income populations, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farms, and bolstering local and regional economies. Lightlife’s support will allow Wholesome Wave to grow its Double Value Coupon Program, a revolutionary network of nutrition incentive programs operated at farmers markets across the country that provide low-income consumers with a monetary incentive when they spend their federal nutrition benefits at a participating farmers market.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Lightlife, a brand committed to supporting the health of people and the planet, to expand the Double Value Coupon Program, among other Wholesome Wave initiatives,” said Michel Nischan, James Beard Award Winning Chef and Wholesome Wave Founder and CEO. “Lightlife’s contribution will provide thousands of families’ access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables, greatly improving their diets and overall health.”

Founded in 1979, Lightlife is now the top-selling refrigerated meat alternative and tempeh brand in the United States. The company is passionate about creating great tasting, vegetarian food, and giving back to the community has always been a top priority. For over 35 years Lightlife has contributed 5% of its annual profits to organizations that support a better planet and healthier lifestyles. In addition to Wholesome Wave, Lightlife also supports several local charities near its home in Western Massachusetts.

“Wholesome Wave’s mission is perfectly aligned with our core values as a company,” said Brad Lahrman, Director of Marketing at Lightlife. “We’re excited to be a part of Wholesome Wave’s mission, and look forward to seeing our contributions directly benefit local economies and healthier, more affordable eating habits nationwide.”

The category leader, Lightlife is always innovating providing new solutions to consumers seeking healthy, plant-based proteins. Lightlife products can be found in the produce or dairy section of grocery and natural food stores nationwide. To learn more about Lightlife, its mission and its products visit www.Lightlife.com or visit its social media channels at www.Facebook.com/Lightlife, www.Twitter.com/Lightlife and www.Pinterest.com/LightlifeFoods. To learn more about Wholesome Wave, visit www.WholesomeWave.org, www.Facebook.com/Wholesomewave, www.Twitter.com/WholesomeWave and http://www.instagram.com/wholesomewave.

About Lightlife

A pioneer in meatless proteins, Lightlife was founded in Western Massachusetts in 1979 with a passion for creating great tasting vegetarian food. Over the years, the brand has grown by sticking to its roots emphasizing quality and care in everything it makes, and giving 5% of its profits back to organizations that support a healthier “you” and a healthier planet. Today, Lightlife strives to make plant-based eating more accessible, delicious and easy with a variety of meatless solutions for all diets. To learn more about Lightlife, visit www.Lightlife.com or visit its social media channels at www.Facebook.com/Lightlife, www.Twitter.com/Lightlife and www.Pinterest.com/LightlifeFoods.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just, and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, locally and regionally grown foods more affordable and accessible, we enable underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. With programs in 27 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income populations, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farms and bolstering local and regional economies. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit www.wholesomewave.org or visit its social media channels at http://www.facebook.com/wholesomewave, http://www.twitter.com/wholesomewave, and http://www.instagram.com/wholesomewave.

2014 Press Releases

11/20/14 - Wholesome Wave Receives $900,000 Grant from Newman's Own Foundation: Part of Innovative Nutrition Cohort to Help Improve Nutrition Access and Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT
Ashley Gaudiano
agaudiano@legacy.wholesomewave.org
571-278-2711

WHOLESOME WAVE RECEIVES $900,000 GRANT FROM
NEWMAN’S OWN FOUNDATION

Part of Innovative Nutrition Cohort to Help Improve Nutrition Access and Education

Bridgeport, CT – Wholesome Wave has been awarded a three-year $900,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The funding supports Wholesome Wave’s participation in a special Nutrition Cohort, a group of six nonprofits and one research organization that will each bring distinctive expertise and programming to collaborate and collectively pursue greater impact.

The Cohort is being developed by Newman’s Own Foundation to help improve health among children and families in underserved communities through fresh food access and nutrition education. It is an innovative approach that creates a network of peers, each with unique and complementary knowledge and experience, to share best practices and collectively accelerate systems change on a national level.

The grant to Wholesome Wave will be used to expand its Double Value Coupon Program and Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, as well as study the collective impact of these programs. Qualitative and quantitative data collected through rigorous evaluation is used by Wholesome Wave to advance local, state and federal policy that increases affordable access to local and regional foods and improves health.

“We are incredibly grateful to Newman’s Own Foundation for this three year grant, and for the opportunity to work with a cohort of organizations whose missions align with ours. This funding will allow Wholesome Wave to continue its work to increase affordable access and improve health for all consumers, regardless of income,” says Wholesome Wave CEO, Michel Nischan.

Wholesome Wave is dedicated to enabling underserved consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to local and regional foods.

“There is tremendous potential in combining the knowledge, experience, and national networks of these organizations to accelerate the impact of improving nutrition in urban and rural communities,” said Lisa Walker, Managing Director, Newman’s Own Foundation. “We are inspired by the early progress being made by Wholesome Wave, and we are excited about bringing several organizations together through the Cohort.”

The other five Nutrition Cohort organizations are: Fair Food Network (Ann Arbor, MI), FoodCorps, Inc. (New York, NY), Food Trust (Philadelphia, PA), National Farm to School Network (Chicago, IL), and Wellness in the Schools (New York, NY). Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition (North Grafton, MA) will provide research assistance to lend expertise in nutrition and evaluate the Cohort’s impact.

Newman’s Own Foundation will work with the Nutrition Cohort over a three-year period to coordinate efforts and brainstorm ideas for improving nutrition.

The Foundation is providing $4.5 million in grants for the Cohort program as part of its overall $10 million support of nonprofits that increase fresh food access and nutrition education in underserved communities. Other funding has been allocated to 29 nonprofits across the country that are focused on nutrition initiatives.

For more information about the Nutrition Cohort, visit: www.newmansownfoundation.org

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Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just, and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, locally and regionally grown foods more affordable and accessible, we enable underserved community members to make healthier food choices. With programs in 25 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income populations, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farms, and bolstering local and regional economies. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

10/16/14 - Doctors at HHC Elmhurst and Bellevue Hospitals Write Fruit & Vegetable “Prescriptions” for Vulnerable Children and their Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Bender, 212-788-3339, benderj1@nychhc.org
Ian Michaels, 212-788-3339, ian.michaels@nychhc.org

Doctors at HHC Elmhurst and Bellevue Hospitals Write Fruit & Vegetable “Prescriptions” for Vulnerable Children and their Families

First Year of FVRx Program in Harlem and the South Bronx Increased Consumption of Healthy Food, Lowered BMI in 40 percent of Children, and Gave Families Access to More Fresh Foods

(New York, NY ― October 16, 2014) The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced the expansion of a program that allows doctors at HHC’s Elmhurst and Bellevue Hospital Centers to write fruit and vegetable “prescriptions” to children who are overweight or obese to help improve access to healthy food and promote overall health and wellness in the community. First adopted by HHC hospitals in the South Bronx and Harlem last summer, the Wholesome Wave Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program (FVRx) proved successful in its first year when the program at HHC Harlem Hospital Center and HHC Lincoln Medical Center helped 40 percent of the enrolled children lower their Body Mass Index (BMI) and more than half of the families reported having more food to eat at home.

“A prescription for healthy food at an affordable price can be even better than a prescription for medicine,” said HHC President Dr. Ram Raju. “When doctors don’t just ask patients to eat more fruits and vegetables, but take concrete steps to make it easier for them and to demonstrate the benefits, patients listen. Obesity is a significant problem for children in New York City. With HHC’s excellent primary care services and community collaborations like this one, we can help children learn at an early age that a healthy lifestyle and good food choices strongly affect their future health and wellbeing.”

“The 2013 FVRx HHC pilot showed tremendous beneficial impact on pediatric patients, including increased fruit and vegetable consumption, decreased BMI, and reductions in food insecurity,” said Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave President and CEO. “The success of the FVRx New York City pilot has helped Wholesome Wave develop a robust model for national replication based on strong public and private partnerships and refined the argument for hospitals to adopt FVRx as a health promotion and chronic disease prevention strategy.”

“We are thrilled with the success of the innovative FVRx pilot program and are proud to announce the expansion in New York City to Elmhurst and Bellevue Hospitals,” said Laurie M. Tisch, president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, which collaborated with Wholesome Wave, HHC and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy to bring FVRx to New York. “At the Illumination Fund, we are dedicated to providing increased access and opportunity to New Yorkers by supporting initiatives related to healthy food, the arts, economic development and civic service. Through continued collaboration with our great partners, I am confident that the FVRx NYC program will continue to impact positively even more members of our community.”

“The incentive programs we operate at our hospital-based Greenmarkets, such as the market outside Elmhurst Hospital, greatly contribute to farmers’ success while significantly impacting community health,” says GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz. “We value this partnership with Wholesome Wave and thank HHC for their leadership in recognizing that wellness begins with what we put into our bodies. Farm-fresh food is the healthiest option and this win-win program addresses both the economic and physical health of our rural and urban communities.”

“The negative health outcomes for families who have been chronically deprived from the ability to purchase enough healthy food can be devastating,” said Barbara Turk, New York City’s Food Policy Director. “I am pleased to support the expansion of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, an innovative partnership between city government and the nonprofit sector that has given New York City communities additional purchasing power to invest in their health.”

“The expansion of FVRx is a welcome addition to our ongoing efforts in improving the health of the community we serve,” said Chris Constantino, HHC Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Elmhurst Hospital. “Based on previous successes in the South Bronx and Harlem, we are confident this program has the potential to make a really positive impact in the overall health of our children and community.”

“Providing nutritional awareness and healthy food choices play a vital role in improving the health of our patients,” said Andrew B. Wallach, MD, FACP, Clinical Director, Ambulatory Care, Bellevue Hospital Center. “It’s been shown that incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into one’s diet helps improve overall health and well-being. That’s why we are excited to offer this program to our Bellevue community.”

About the HHC/Wholesome Wave FVRx Program

HHC selects pediatric patients for FVRx based on age and BMI eligibility. Over the course of four months, during farmers market season, patients receive a “prescription” to eat more fruit and vegetables. The prescription is designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for the entire family and is typically valued at $1 per day per household member ($28 per week for a family of four). This year, Wholesome Wave is piloting a $.50 incentive at two of the FVRx hospitals ($14 per week for a family of four). The prescription is exchanged on-site for Health Bucks, a city-wide Department of Health and Mental Hygiene program, which can be used at all New York City farmers markets.

Program participants at Elmhurst and Harlem Hospital Centers can use Health Bucks at farmers markets on-site or elsewhere throughout New York City. Participants at Bellevue Hospital have a unique opportunity to participate in a Fresh Food Box program operated by GrowNYC. FVRx patients can exchange their prescription for Health Bucks and choose to purchase a Fresh Food Box that includes 10 pounds of fresh produce for $10 or patients can use their Health Bucks at farmers markets throughout NYC. The Fresh Food Box program is available every Tuesday at Bellevue Hospital through December.

Each month, patients return to the hospital to meet with their doctor and/or nutritionist, renew their fruit and vegetable prescriptions, have their weight and BMI evaluated, and receive nutritional counseling leading to self-management goals for healthy eating. Monthly visits help keep patients and their families on track, and keep communication open between participants and their healthcare providers.

Elmhurst’s FVRx program will run until November and expects to reach 400 children and family members. Bellevue’s program will run until December and will impact about 250 children and family members.

An analysis by Wholesome Wave presented the following first year results (final report available) of the FVRx program at Harlem Hospital Center and Lincoln Medical Center, where more than 550 children and family members benefited:

  • Nearly 96 percent of families and 97 percent of children increased consumption of fruits and vegetables;
  • At the completion of the program, 71 percent of households reported having enough of the kinds of foods they want to eat, compared to only 29 percent of households at the start of the program;
  • 40 percent of children lowered their BMI;
  • More than 90 percent of participants reported shopping at local farmers markets weekly or more than 2-3 times per month;
  • 70 percent of patients reported an increase in knowledge about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their family’s diets;
  • 97 percent of patients were happy with their healthy weight program because of their participation in FVRx.

Overall, eight HHC hospitals host farmers markets in partnership with Harvest Home and Greenmarket. Elmhurst Hospital Center hosts one on Tuesdays through December 23; and Harlem Hospital Center on Fridays through November 1.

Shoppers at farmers markets can pay for their fresh fruits and vegetables using EBT cards (food stamps), Health Bucks, Green Checks, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons or WIC coupons.

# # #

About HHC
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system, the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country, and one of the New York area’s largest providers of government-sponsored health insurance, MetroPlus Health Plan, the plan of choice for nearly half a million New Yorkers. HHC serves 1.4 million New Yorkers every year and more than 475,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, five skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 70 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission’s John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc or find us on facebook.com/nycHHC or twitter.com/HHCnyc.

About Wholesome Wave
Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just, and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, locally and regionally grown foods more affordable and accessible, Wholesome Wave enables underserved community members to make healthier food choices. With programs in 25 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income populations, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farms and bolstering local and regional economies. To learn more visit www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

About the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund (LMTIF) is a New York City-based foundation that strives to improve access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. Founded in 2007 by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch, the Illumination Fund plays an active role in supporting innovative approaches to education, the arts, healthy food and civic service in order to illuminate strategies that transform our urban landscape. For more information about the Illumination Fund, visit: http://www.lmtilluminationfund.org/.

About GrowNYC
GrowNYC is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that works to make New York City more sustainable, and improve the lives of all New Yorkers. Reaching two million New Yorkers every year, GrowNYC operates Greenmarket farmers markets, engages New Yorkers in recycling education and resources, builds and maintains green spaces and engages young people in hands-on education. Learn more at www.grownyc.org.

9/29/14 - Wholesome Wave Celebrates Allocation of $31.5 Million for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program Benefiting Food Insecure Americans, Local and Regional Farmers

Media Contact:
Ashley Gaudiano
571-278-2711
agaudiano@legacy.wholesomewave.org

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2014

Wholesome Wave Celebrates Allocation of $31.5 Million for Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program Benefiting Food Insecure Americans, Local and Regional Farmers

(Bridgeport, CT) Today, Wholesome Wave, alongside our national network of partners, celebrates the US Department of Agriculture’s announcement of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, a program which will help the nearly 50 million Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) to purchase healthy, locally and regionally grown fruits and vegetables. The new federal program makes available $31.5 million this year towards healthy food nutrition incentives, a significant stride taken by the government to empower our nations most food insecure to make healthy food choices while also benefiting America’s classic small business owners – small and mid-sized farmers.

“We want to especially commend US Department of Agriculture leadership and staff, as well as Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), her House counterpart Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), and Minority Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for their hard work and guidance in delivering this critical program within the 2014 Farm Bill,” says Wholesome Wave Vice President Gus Schumacher.

“The new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program represents an incredible opportunity for the millions of Americans who struggle to put healthy food on their tables, local and regional producers, as well as organizations running incentive programs. We are thrilled to see our government and the USDA placing an emphasis on making healthy produce affordable for everyone, while simultaneously supporting small and mid-sized farms,” says Wholesome Wave Founder and CEO, Michel Nischan.

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, along with Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe made the announcement of the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program in Richmond, VA. Wholesome Wave works with The Farmers Market.Co, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, Market Central, Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland/Fort Meade Farmers Market, and Appalachian Sustainable Development in Virginia to build a statewide program and network of EBT and nutrition incentive programs.

Following the announcement of FINI, the Secretary also announced the awardees of over $27 million in grants to expand marketing through the new Local Food Marketing Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). Wholesome Wave was awarded a Local Food Promotion Program grant to pilot a new enterprise that will network local food hubs across New England to fulfill large volume orders of local fruits and vegetables for institutions such as hospitals.

Since 2007, Wholesome Wave has worked with the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) network of partners to implement nutrition incentive programs at farmers markets across the country. What started in three states has since grown to include a DVCP network of more than 60 partners operating incentive programs in 24 states and Washington D.C., at more than 350 farmers markets. The program allows low-income shoppers to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, while driving additional revenue to farmers. Through collaborations with incentive program operators across the country, including key allies Ecology Center, Fair Food Network, and Roots of Change, Wholesome Wave has demonstrated the impact of these programs and advocated for federal support.

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Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just, and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, locally and regionally grown foods more affordable and accessible, we enable underserved community members to make healthier food choices. With programs in 25 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income populations, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farms and bolstering local and regional economies. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

8/14/14 - Wholesome Wave Launches 16 day, 400-mile Solo Bicycle Campaign, Farm to Table Cycle: A Journey for Change

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(Bridgeport, CT – August 14, 2014) Wholesome Wave, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, announced the launch of Farm to Table Cycle: A Journey for Change, a 400-mile solo bicycle and photography grassroots campaign designed to raise awareness about local food systems. The campaign will showcase the many critical building blocks that make up a thriving food system from the unique perspectives of community members throughout New England. It will focus on issues that touch our food system daily, including food security, farming and sustainability, food waste, dairy and livestock production, farm-to-table chefs, local food processing and infrastructure, school meals, and institutional food purchasing.

The 16-day cycling journey will launch from McLevy Green in Bridgeport, CT on September 11, 2014 with adventure traveler and world-class photographer Glenn Charles leading the way. Charles will make nearly three dozen visits to farms, farmers markets, fisheries, schools, food pantries, retail outlets, and restaurants as he winds his way north. After navigating through Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, he will complete the ride in Portland, ME at the Deering Park Farmers Market on Saturday, September 27.

“What you will see is that ‘farm-to-table’ is the way of the future. New England is home to four million acres of farmland and a growing number of small and mid-sized farms. Farm to Table Cycle will unveil the many facets of our country’s food system. It will share with you the story of so many Americans who work diligently and tirelessly to shape our food system into one that is more equitable, more sustainable and more delicious,” said Wholesome Wave CEO, Michel Nischan.

 “Photography has always been a powerful tool for creating awareness and telling a story. Human powered adventure travel opens doors and removes the natural barriers that exist between strangers. By combining the two, we are able to authentically and organically tell a story about our food system from the perspective of so many different community members,” says Charles.

Wholesome Wave invites individuals around the country to take part on this journey by visitingwww.farmtotablecycle.com or following along at FacebookTwitter or Instagram. For information on events open to the public, email us at communications@legacy.wholesomewave.org or call 203.226.1112.

Farm to Table Cycle is the only regional solo cycling campaign of its kind. All funds raised will support Wholesome Wave’s work to help make fresh, healthy food affordable and available to everyone.  This trip is sponsored by Naked Juice, Organic Valley, Shearwater Coffee, Whole Foods, Cohill’s Inn, Farm Star Living, Newman’s Own Organics, and CowPots.  Visit www.farmtotablecycle.com to donate today.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, Wholesome Wave enables low-income community members to make healthier food choices.  With programs in 25 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies. To learn more, visit www.wholesomewave.org.

  

About Glenn Charles

Glenn is a seasoned adventure traveler and world-class photographer. Since 2009, he has traveled more than 10,000 miles by human powered transportation, including sea kayaking the Inside Passage of Alaska and the Atlantic Ocean from FL to ME, Cycling the southern and western perimeter of the US, biking Alaska, Morocco, the Yukatan, and others. Glenn pairs his travels with stories, sharing his adventures via beautiful imagery. To learn more, visit www.glenncharles.pro.

4/10/14 - Wholesome Wave Triggers $4 Million in Three Innovative New England Food Hub Investments

(Bridgeport, CT – April 10, 2014) Throughout 2013, Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments has coordinated and triggered over $4 million of investment in local food infrastructure through three deals in New England.

The Investments team worked with Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a non-profit business that aggregates and distributes local and regional products, to secure a $100,000 loan with a philanthropic guaranty in order to expand cooler space and support working capital. In addition to coordinating and structuring the deal, Wholesome Wave provided technical assistance to Farm Fresh Rhode Island including strategic planning, financial modeling, market analysis and business plan development. With the additional space and working capital, Farm Fresh Rhode Island has increased sales of local and regional foods, supporting farmer incomes and spurring job creation.

Red’s Best, a Massachusetts based “fish hub” that buys the whole catch from small New England boats and offers fisherman and consumers transparency unheard of in the industry, sought out the team’s help to secure and structure a multi-million dollar line of credit that allowed the business to expand its capacity, serve new markets, and create new jobs. Wholesome Wave Investments’ provided market analysis, business planning, impact assessment and financial modeling, as well as assisted in structuring the deal by coordinating multiple lenders and ensuring that Red’s Best’s interests were represented.

Wholesome Wave also worked with Dorchester Bay Development Corporation to secure a critical tranche of a large public-private financing deal for redeveloping an old factory into a food enterprise hub. The building is currently being converted into a commercial kitchen and food processing facility managed by Crop Circle Kitchen, a non-profit that provides business development services and food-safe rental space to Boston-based food businesses. Wholesome Wave’s efforts will help bring much-needed jobs and revitalization to a low-income neighborhood.

Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments Connects Food Hubs With Impact Investors

Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments initiative aims to strengthen regional food systems by supporting the development and expansion of innovative businesses that manage the aggregation, distribution and processing of regional food products – i.e. “food hubs.” The Investment’s team connects food hubs with impact investors, orchestrating innovative financing deals that address critical gaps in capital.

By directing business development assistance and capital to mission-driven food hubs, Wholesome Wave helps build the infrastructure that supports small and mid-sized farms and grows local and regional economies. “The businesses and entrepreneurs who are creating great innovative models connecting regional producers with regional markets are growing rapidly and finding themselves needing capital. On the other side we have people interested in providing capital. We found ourselves in the middle and realized there was work to be done to bring them together,” says Malini Ram Morgahan, Director, Healthy Food Commerce Investments in a recent interview.

Through the Healthy Food Commerce Investments’ work with regional food businesses, Wholesome Wave is furthering its mission of supporting small & mid-sized farms, bolstering the local economy, and increasing affordable access to locally grown food. “What’s unique about our work is that it has immediate impact. Every time we work with a business and every time that work or financing helps to result in greater sales, those sales are more income for farmers, for the region, for the economic stability of that area,” Ram Morgahan says.

Food Hubs Support Local and Regional Farmers, Spur Job Creation, & Stimulate the Local Economy

According to a study by Michigan State University and the Wallace Center at Winrock International, food hubs, on average work with 80 producers, the vast majority of which are small or mid-sized. These businesses, on average, employ 19 paid staff had annual sales exceeding $3.7 million.

In addition to the support food hubs provide to local and regional farmers, they also have the power to spur job creation and stimulate local economic activity. Multiple feasibility studies suggest that even a small percentage shift in local food production has the potential to create thousands of new jobs. When food hubs purchase services and goods from local and regional farmers, money re-circulates through the local economy, creating a multiplier effect, where every $1 of demand for food hub products generates an additional $0.63 in related industrial sectors.

Wholesome Wave is a national 501(c)3 organization that strives to create a more vibrant, just and sustainable food system by making healthy, locally and regionally grown foods more affordable for everyone. Doing so results in a significant impact on local economies, supports small and mid-sized farms and improves health. To learn more about Wholesome Wave, visit www.wholesomewave.org.

2/4/14 - Wholesome Wave Reluctantly Supports Overdue Farm Bill; Deeply Disappointed by Cuts

(Bridgeport, CT – February 4, 2014) After two years of partisan wrangling through a very challenging process, the House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill. There are a number of provisions in the bill that perpetuate what is broken with our current agricultural system. Real opportunities for modern reform were missed, and cuts have been made to parts of the program that place undue burden on the nation’s most vulnerable. At a time where income inequality is a very hot topic, this bill runs the risk of strengthening sentiment that agricultural policy benefits the more fortunate at the expense of the less.

We do commend Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and her House counterpart Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), as well as Minority Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for delivering a bill after two-and-a-half years of gridlock between the two chambers. While we are deeply disappointed to see $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), we are relieved to see that they are significantly less than the $40 billion cut proposed in the earlier House version of the Farm Bill. Nevertheless, families struggling with hunger will still be impacted, and significant portions of the bill lack true reform.

While we are reluctant to support this legislation because of the disheartening cuts to SNAP, the bill does include funding for many critical programs that will enhance access to affordable, local food and drive revenue to local and regional farmers. Specifically, there is mandatory funding for nutrition incentives at $20 million per year, for five years, as well as increased funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Community Food Projects, Specialty Crop Block Grants, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Beginning Farmers and the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The inclusion of funding for nutrition incentives along with these additional innovative programs will help increase access to affordable, healthy, locally grown food for millions of Americans who live in poverty and struggle to put good food on their tables, while supporting the growth of local and regional food systems and growing GDP in these communities.

The bill passed in the House with a vote of 251-166 and today, passed the Senate by a vote of 68-32. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, where, according to the White House, he will sign it into law. To our disappointment, the lack of equity in the bill that target the most vulnerable, while leaving the most fortunate relatively unscathed, were not addressed. Hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling with poverty will be unfairly penalized, however it is our hope that through many of the new funding streams, millions will be able to put better food on the table, and our local and regional food systems will be strengthened.

2013 Press Releases

9/16/13 - Wholesome Wave & Public Private Investors Help Fish Hub Expand to Sustain Small-Scale Fishermen Way of Life

Wholesome Wave’s Investments Team Helps Local-Seafood Supplier Navigate Through Complicated Public-Private Financial Deal

(Bridgeport, CT – Sept. 4, 2013) Red’s Best, a Boston-based wholesale seafood distributor and emerging “fish hub,” continues to expand its sourcing from Massachusetts family fishermen with new capital. With business planning and deal coordination support from Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments team, Red’s Best founder and president Jared Auerbach was able to attract public-private investors to help his innovative company physically expand and increase its ability to support hundreds of small-scale family fishermen along the New England Coast.

Red’s Best is a unique “fish hub,” which uses an innovative proprietary system to track each fisherman’s catch with limited paperwork and offers small fisherman much clearer traceability and transparency than many large distributors. Auerbach says, “Our technology allows us to unload hundreds of small boats a day and reach critical mass to be competitive with the bigger operations and pay our fishermen a fair, timely and competitive price for each catch.”

Auerbach and the Red’s Best staff, worked with Wholesome Wave’s Investments Team to develop a solid, forward looking business and investment plan to assist in qualifying for loans offered through both public and private investment organizations – Middlesex Savings Bank and Massachusetts Growth Capital provided the bulk of the investment with a small tranche coming from Fresh Source CapitalCEI, a Maine-based community development finance institution with extensive experience in seafood distribution financing, provided additional technical assistance for each financial institution. With this new capital, Red’s Best is expanding operations at the Boston Fish Pier, as well as launching an operation in Chatham and expanding its existing operations in Menemsha, small fishing port towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard respectively.

Auerbach says the new capital has also allowed the seafood distributor to significantly expand its wholesale business to institutional buyers that are interested in purchasing local seafood and supporting small fisherman. Red’s Best also supplies restaurants, hotels and schools and has products sold at farmers markets throughout the Boston-area. The products can be purchased at farmers markets through Mayor Tom Menino’s Boston Bounty Bucks, a nutrition incentives program modeled after Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupon Program, enabling all citizens in Boston to purchase fresh, local, traceable and affordable tasty fish.

The new financing and increased business allowed Red’s Best to hire an additional 30 employees since last year. Auerbach says without Wholesome Wave’s financial guidance he doubts that he would have had time to navigate the time consuming and complicated application process. “The ripple effect of what [Wholesome Wave] did for my company will be felt for years to come,” says Auerbach.

Mayor Menino says “Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments team worked hard with Red’s Best to assist on their business plan helping Jared and his team to acquire significant capital. They are already moving into larger space on the Pier and hiring more Bostonians to handle their rapidly increasing business.” The Mayor’s Food Policy Director Edith Murnane helped introduce Wholesome Wave to Auerbach.

Red’s Best also recently leased space at Chatham’s municipal fish pier. Jeff Dyken, Selectman, Town of Chatham says, “Red’s Best’s efforts have contributed much needed additional jobs to our local economy. Red’s Best brings innovative approaches to the sales and marketing of the many underutilized species that Chatham fisherman now catch.”

The three institutions providing capital to Red’s Best each approved loans for slightly different reasons, though thanks to the expert analysis and strategic assistance from Wholesome Wave, all participating investors were able to gain confidence that the growing company was investment-worthy.

Jose Luis Rojas, Senior Lending Officer, Mass Growth Capital said, “Jared Auerbach represents one of the many entrepreneurial business leaders in Massachusetts whom we are proud to support. We’re grateful to Wholesome Wave for helping us better determine Auerbach’s business plan and growth potential.” Debb Colony, Vice President, Middlesex Savings Bank says, “We were impressed with Jared’s unique business model, and his history of growth.  Wholesome Wave helped to facilitate the ultimate transaction by working with Jared on his financial package, and by helping in the coordination of his financial partners.”

Wholesome Wave’s investment team is continuing to break new ground as it works to broaden and strengthen local food infrastructure by providing growing local food entrepreneurs with critical support to help navigate the capital raising process. Malini Ram Moraghan, Managing Director, Wholesome Wave Investments, says, “Entrepreneurs have a tough task of balancing day to day business responsibilities with the significant work of finding investors and hammering out deal mechanics. We’re learning that many investors, themselves, are often unfamiliar with what it means to invest in local food distribution and processing ventures. All that combines to show the services of our team are increasingly more important than ever – with a heightened interest in local investment and demand for local food, entrepreneurs and investors want to work together, but need skilled help to get deals done. We were honored to help Red’s Best and to bring together a cross-sector team whose investment is not just driving immediate economic impact, but also creating infrastructure for a stronger regional food system.”   

About Red’s Best

Red’s Best unloads and distributes seafood for small, local, owner-operated day-boats. The seafood distributor has worked hard over the years to build efficiencies in an antiquated system with the goal of keeping money in the supply chain while providing traceability and transparency to its customers.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a national nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to improving affordable access of fresh, healthy foods in a way that supports regional small- and mid-sized farmers and reaches all consumers, regardless of income. Wholesome Wave innovates, incubates and institutionalizes a variety of programs that build a healthier food system. We partner with a variety of mission-aligned stakeholders like nonprofits, policy makers, community leaders, healthcare providers, and government entities in order to implement programs that benefit under-served consumers and the farmers who provide for them.

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8/7/13 - Wholesome Wave Celebrates National Farmers Market Week at Bridgeport's East Side Farm Stand

BRIDGEPORT (August 7, 2013) – The East Side Farm Stand has never been more successful, thanks to an innovative collaboration between the City of Bridgeport, Wholesome Wave, and Cecarelli Farms, to bring affordable, healthy, local fruits and vegetables to Bridgeport.

Today, city, state and national officials joined Wholesome Wave to celebrate the success of this program as part of National Farmers Market Week. Wholesome Wave CEO, Michel Nischan, spoke to the impact of the Women Infant and Children (WIC) and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (SFNMP) on the East Side. In addition, families purchased local produce, sampled healthy recipes, participated in family-fun activities and learned about other health and nutrition projects in the area.

The use of federal nutrition benefits, such as WIC, SFNMP and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as SNAP or food stamps) at the East Side Farm Stand has been essential to the success of the program in bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to low income residents in Bridgeport.

Nischan said, “I love that our Double Value Coupon Program is working to dispel misconceptions of consumers who depend on food stamps to put food on the table every day. We are proving that struggling parents prefer to feed their families healthy locally grown food when the choice is affordable and accessible.”

Gus Schumacher, Wholesome Wave Executive Vice President and former USDA Under Secretary of Agriculture, said, “I am incredibly proud of how successful and popular the East Side Farm Stand has become. I especially love the fact that it’s a place where America’s military Veterans, such as Francisco Villarini, prefer to spend quality time while purchasing healthy local food. Veterans know a good bargain when they see it!” Rick Macsuga, Marketing Specialist with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, announced today that the state is committing $25,000 to support a new farmers market voucher program specifically for veterans next year.

Kristin duBay Horton, the City of Bridgeport’s Director of Health said, “Health equity and social justice is what the health department is all about… until we make sure every resident we are not going to overcome an obesity rate of over 70% in some of our neighborhoods. We are really seeing change here. Wholesome Wave is an amazing partner and pushes us to think in new ways all the time.”

East Side is one of four markets in Bridgeport where consumers can double the value of their federal nutrition benefits spent on locally grown foods. Just last year, participating Bridgeport farmers markets provided $89,192 in fresh fruits and vegetables to the local community, benefiting over 2,000 families in the city. Bridgeport has consistently been a leader in the state on bringing in federal benefits and incentive dollars to market. According to Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, these markets “help promote a sustainable, healthy lifestyle by providing access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables.”

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) offered his support to the effort, stating: “Fresh fruits and vegetables are critically important to the health of our families, yet we know that far too many low-income families in cities like Bridgeport lack access to affordable produce, both due to the dearth of local stores and cost barriers. I applaud the City of Bridgeport, Wholesome Wave and Cecarelli Farms for their dedication to the health of all families. Federal nutrition benefits do not go far enough today, and programs like this that help families stretch those limited dollars and access healthy food should be commended and celebrated.”

Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) thanked Wholesome Wave and the City of Bridgeport, “… for prioritizing the fact that just because you don’t have a high income – just because you’re disadvantaged – just because you live in neighborhood that doesn’t really have a supermarket within reach – doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to feed your children a good healthy diet that will prepare them for success as they grow older.”

Nelson Cecarelli from Cecarelli Farms stated, “I feel like our produce is going to an area that really needs us. It is a win-win for us. The [farm stands] in Bridgeport have gotten better and better. Not only are the[y] benefiting farmers because we get to sell direct, they are also benefiting the community because in Bridgeport there is not the same availability of fresh produce as elsewhere.”

Additional organizations who took part in Bridgeport’s East Side Farm Stand Celebration included Cooking Matters, Get Healthy Connecticut, Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust, Cook & Grow and New England Conservation Services.

The East Side Farm Stand is located at 752 East Main Street, at the corner of East Main Street and Crescent Avenue. It is run as a collaborative effort between Wholesome Wave and the Department of Health and Social Services. For more information contact raquel@legacy.wholesomewave.org.

Support for this program is provided by United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting small- and mid-sized farmers and making fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables available to all people, regardless of income. Wholesome Wave partners with farmers markets, community leaders, healthcare providers, like-minded nonprofits and government entities to implement programs that benefit consumers in under-served communities and the farmers who provide for them.

7/23/13 - Wholesome Wave Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program Launches in New York City Public Hospitals, Targets Those at Risk of Obesity

News Release from New York City Office of the Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 23, 2013

www.nyc.gov

DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS, HEALTH COMMISSIONER FARLEY AND HEALTH AND HOSPITAL CORPORATIONS PRESIDENT AVILES LAUNCH NEW PROGRAMS TO HELP FAMILIES EAT BETTER AND ACCESS HEALTHY PRODUCE AT FARMERS MARKETS 

Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program Launches in New York City Public Hospitals, Targets Those at Risk of Obesity 

Largest City Run Farmers Market SNAP Incentive Program in the Country Increases 32 Percent over Previous Season

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas A. Farley and Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan D. Aviles today announced two new initiatives to expand New Yorkers access to farmers markets’ produce and increase healthy eating. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, under which a doctor and nutritionist assess the health and nutritional habits of patients and families at risk for obesity and provide “prescriptions” to consume more fruits and vegetables is being brought to New York City for the first time in a pilot program at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx and Harlem Hospital Center in Manhattan. The “Come See What’s Cookin’, Kids” program is also bringing food based nutrition education to kids at four City farmers markets. Additionally, New York City, which has the largest municipal farmers market SNAP incentive program in the nation, is making fruit and vegetables more affordable than ever by expanding the Health Bucks program – which provides $2 coupons for fresh produce at farmers markets. This year, Health Bucks will make more than $560,000 worth of fruits and vegetables available to low-income New Yorkers, an increase of 32 percent over the previous season.  Deputy Mayor Gibbs made the announcement at HHC’s Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx where she was joined by HCC Chief Medical Officer Ross Wilson, HRA Executive Deputy Commissioner Cecile Noel, Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund and Wholesome Wave Executive Vice President Gus Schumacher.

“Each dollar invested in Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program nourishes public hospital patients and their families, boosts revenue at farmers markets, and supports overall community health,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “Farmers markets support the City’s efforts to keep communities fit by providing healthy and affordable dietary options in a localized setting.”

“A food environment full of processed foods full of fat, sugar and salt is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.  “The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program is a creative approach that, with the inclusion of Health Bucks, will enable at-risk patients to visit any of our 142 Farmers Markets and purchase the fruits and vegetables that will help them stay healthy.”

“Healthy eating habits along with regular checkups and exercise are critical to help people stay physically fit and to control the chronic conditions that affect many of our patients, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes,” said HHC President Aviles. “We welcome FVRx as a tool to achieving healthy eating habits, and to help families gain access to the quality produce available at City farmers markets.”

“Health Bucks are at the heart of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – helping New Yorkers in need supplement their diet with the foods that will benefit them the most,” said HRA Commissioner Robert Doar. “With Health Bucks and SNAP nutrition education programs including our healthy eating and cost comparison Cut the Junk initiative, HRA continues its efforts to promote good nutrition habits among more families at the same time it ensures that they will have greater opportunities to get nutritious food with their benefits.”

“These new programs build on the City’s extensive efforts to increase access to and awareness of healthy foods, especially produce,” said Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler.  “With FVRx and our new farmers market nutrition education program for children, we are sowing the seeds for a healthier future.  I want to thank all of the partners that have helped to make this possible.”

“We are proud to support Wholesome Wave’s innovative program to increase access, affordability and knowledge about healthy foods in these high-need communities,” said Laurie Tisch, President of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. “Through continued collaboration, we will shape a healthier future for communities throughout New York.”

“Our vision for the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program is that it will lead us all to view farmers markets as pharmacies providing access to healthy affordable locally-grown fruits and vegetables,” said Wholesome Wave Executive Vice President, Gus Schumacher.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is a nationally-recognized program by Wholesome Wave under which a doctor and nutritionist assess the health and nutritional habits of patients and families at risk for obesity and give patients “prescriptions” to consume more fruits and vegetables. FVRx patients at the two hospitals will then receive Health Bucks, which are coupons from the Human Resources Administration and the Health Department that can be redeemed for fruit and vegetables at all New York City farmers markets.

Patients return to the hospital monthly to meet with their doctor, renew their fruit and vegetable prescriptions, have their weight and body mass index (BMI) evaluated, and receive nutritional counseling leading to self-management goals for healthy eating. Each hospital will attempt to enroll up to 70 patients who will remain in the program for at least four months. Patients in the program receive Health Bucks in the amount of one dollar per day for themselves and their family members, so a patient with a family of four would receive $28 worth of Health Bucks per week. This new public-private partnership with HHC has been made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

“The Bloomberg administration has been a national leader in providing access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Healthy eating and wellness go hand in hand, so GrowNYC is proud to partner with a number of hospitals in the city to host farmers markets –it’s a natural fit,” said executive director of GrowNYC Marcel Van Ooyen. “Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables is a help to the city residents’ overall health, and it feeds the local economy be keeping farmland in agricultural production.”

Results from Wholesome Wave 2012 pilot from communities where FVRx programs were launched in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington, D.C. indicated that the majority of patients increased fruit and vegetable consumption, made repeated visits to the farmers markets, and continued regular visits to the doctor. New and repeat customers also drove significant sales for the farmers markets. Fifty-three percent of families came to the farmers market eight or more times during the FVRx season. Participants also increased knowledge about their neighborhood farmers markets, where to buy locally grown produce, and the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet.

This will also be the first year of the Come See What’s Cookin’, Kids program, which provides free and fun food-based nutrition activities for children under 6 and their caregivers at select farmers markets and is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Department of Health has been partnering with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program clinics to help link low income families with small children to this nutrition education resource. Come See What’s Cookin’, Kids builds on the Health Department’s Stellar Farmers Markets program, which provides free cooking and nutrition classes for adults at select farmers’ markets across NYC. The program aims to increase nutrition knowledge and enhance skills in selecting, preparing and storing fresh seasonal produce. The program operates at 21 markets this summer up from 19 last year when the program reached more than 40,000 SNAP-eligible New Yorkers. Attendees of the Stellar Farmers Markets and Come See What’s Cookin’, Kids program receive Health Bucks coupons for participating in the classes.

Lincoln Medical Center and Harlem Hospital Center both serve populations with a high rate of obesity and met several criteria for the FVRx program, including proximity to farmers markets participating in the Health Bucks program. HHC hospitals host numerous farmers markets throughout the City in partnership with Harvest Home and Greenmarket. Shoppers can pay for their fresh fruits and vegetables using EBT cards (food stamps), Health Bucks, Green Checks, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons or WIC coupons.

The following are locations and times of farmers markets at HHC facilities:

Manhattan

  • Metropolitan Hospital Center: Market located at 99th street and Third Avenue. Open now to Nov.15. Fridays 8 AM – 4 PM.
  • Harlem Hospital: Lenox Avenue between 136 and 137 Streets. Open now to Nov. 15. Fridays 8 AM -4 PM.

Bronx

  • Jacobi Medical Center: Market located at 1400 Pelham Parkway, on the new Jacobi Pedestrian Mall directly in front of the hospital. Open now to Thanksgiving. Tuesdays 8 AM – 4 PM.
  • North Central Bronx Hospital: Market located at the corner of Mosholu Parkway North and Jerome Avenue. July 10 to Thanksgiving. Wednesdays 8 AM – 6 PM.
  • Lincoln Medical Center: Market located on 149th Street, adjacent to the hospital, between Morris and Park Avenue. Open now to Nov. 22. Tuesdays and Fridays 8 AM – 3 PM.

Brooklyn

  • Coney Island Hospital: Market located at 2100 Ocean Parkway between Ave. Z and Shore Rd. Open now to November. Fridays 8 AM – 4 PM..
    Queens
  • Queens Hospital Center: Market located at 164th street and 82nd road, sidewalk pavilion under the east bridge. All year round. Thursdays 8 AM – 4 PM.
  • Elmhurst Hospital Center: Market located at 41st Avenue between 80th and 81st streets. Now to Nov. 26. Tuesdays 8 AM – 4 PM.

To find a farmers market near you, visit nyc.gov and search farmers markets.

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6/3/13 - Wholesome Wave and CEI Invest in Rhode Island Food Hub: Boost Local Farms and New England Food Economy

News Release – June 3, 2013

(Bridgeport, CT ) – Through a collaborative financing initiative, Wholesome Wave and CEI have teamed up to help Farm Fresh Rhode Island expand its ability to support New England small and midsize farms and make local food more readily available to a growing number of customers. Farm Fresh Rhode Island provides a convenient way for customers to buy local food from more than 60 regional farms located in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their customers include individual families, many from underserved communities, and large buyers such as restaurants, grocers, schools and food service companies.

CEI and Wholesome Wave collaborated on providing business development assistance and “patient capital” to Farm Fresh Rhode Island.  The financing deal allows Farm Fresh Rhode Island to nearly double its produce storage and significantly expand its Market Mobile and Veggie Box programs, which enable thousands of families to access local, fresh food from dozens of family farms across New England.

Over the past year, Wholesome Wave worked closely with Farm Fresh Rhode Island to support strategic planning and investment for its Market Mobile and Veggie Box programs. CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food System program provided financing for the project, with funds from the Department of Treasury’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and a loan guarantee orchestrated by Wholesome Wave. The investment structure demonstrates the ability to provide financing tailored to real world needs of growing small businesses.

“The flexible structure of this loan recognizes Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s growing operation and the risk it takes on to provide infrastructure and market access for small and midsize farms,” says Malini Ram, Managing Director of Wholesome Wave’s Investment arm.

“The financing brings together different types of capital and creates an exciting relationship between mission investors and nonprofit organizations that are driving impact in the local food market.”

“Not only does the investment in Farm Fresh Rhode Island create more jobs and support more than 60 New England family farmers,” says Gray Harris, Director of CEI’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program, “it also connects consumers and institutions with local produce by strengthening New England’s local food infrastructure – opening the door for many more small and midsize farms to increase their sales and economic viability.”

“This new investment will allow us to double our refrigerator storage capacity, and meet the soaring demand for locally grown food,” says Noah Fulmer, Executive Director, Farm Fresh Rhode Island. Even over this last winter season, Farm Fresh Rhode Island saw a 30% increase in sales and Fulmer expects to see a much larger increase during the summer. Since Farm Fresh Rhode Island opened its doors, its sales have led to the creation of more than 50 local food jobs. Fulmer says, “Economically, the investment serves as a proof of concept. Despite high unemployment in Rhode Island, thanks to a diversified customer base and small business investments in local agriculture, farmers are hiring more people to keep up with the demand from Market Mobile and Veggie Box. It’s that kind of growth that is exciting and it’s creating positive ripple effects across New England.”

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