Food4All Incorporated announced it has received $100,000 in grant funding under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR program is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The grant will fund a pilot project aimed at developing technology for small to mid-scale food producers to sell online directly to restaurants, schools, hospitals and other institutional buyers within their region. This milestone is a major move for Food4All on its mission to streamline the local food supply chain by connecting buyers and sellers online.
“Receiving this highly competitive grant is a vote of confidence for our technology vision to increase the efficiency and profitability of small to mid-scale food producers, while enabling wholesale buyer access to these producers,” says Kami Semick, founder and CEO at Food4All.
This news comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has turned a spotlight on the importance of sourcing food locally. With limited in-person interactions, technology plays an increasingly important role in finding and buying directly from local food producers. Additionally, buying food locally has a measurable positive economic impact on communities. A 2018 study in Central Oregon found produce purchased directly from local farmers resulted in an additional 26 percent increase in community economic activity over produce purchased from non-local growers.
- VertueLab, Portland, assisted Food4All in the SBIR proposal development;
- Louisiana State University Agriculture Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana will assist with research;
- The project team will be based at Oregon State University’s Technology Co-Lab in Bend and utilize OSU intern resources;
- MarketMaker, Champaign, Illinois, a national network connecting farmers and fisherman to buyers, will be involved as an outreach and engagement partner within Louisiana.
“We see the important role technology can play in streamlining transactions between food buyers and sellers. We are thrilled to be a part of this important project,” says Darlene Knipe, CEO of MarketMaker.