Food4All, a pioneer in connecting people with local farmers and makers to help communities thrive, has received a second round of funding through the USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The $650,000 grant will expand Food4All’s ability to enable small to mid-scale producers to sell online directly to consumers and local and regional wholesale buyers, such as restaurants, schools and other institutions.
Food4All was a recipient of an initial SBIR grant in 2020 to research the barriers local food producers face when selling directly to wholesale customers. Using their research, Food4All created a prototype for their online platform that enabled wholesale transactions. Based on the successful results to date, Food4All has been awarded this second, larger grant to continue the work to expand and commercialize their platform.
“Our technology has proven to be highly functional and well received by both growers and their retail and wholesale customers,” says Kami Semick, founder and CEO at Food4All. “We are excited to expand our capabilities and reach with the help of this USDA grant.”
“The projects we’re supporting with this new round of funding demonstrate scientific originality, technical feasibility and strong commercial potential,” said USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Acting Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “With this research, our small business partners are helping to solve some of our most vexing agricultural problems.”
VertueLab, a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit supporting cleantech startups, assisted in the SBIR proposal development. VertueLab provides funding and holistic entrepreneurial support to startups like Food4All, and has operated the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program in Oregon since 2013, funded in part by Business Oregon and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Every connection we make is committed to sustaining local farmers and makers and fostering healthy, sustainable and vibrant communities,” says Semick. “We are proud that our technology platform is serving as a catalyst for changing consumer and institutional buying behaviors and benefiting local communities.”
Food4All’s mission is to use technology to connect rural producers with local buyers, improving farmers’ profitability, community economic health and increasing access to fresh, local farm products. Currently, approximately 1450 producers across all 50 states and Canada are registered to sell on the platform.