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President’s Executive Order Will Provide More Federal Aid for Anti-Hunger Nonprofits

Nonprofits and restaurants that work together to combat food insecurity got a boost recently from a new executive order signed by President Joe Biden. The order directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide more funds to support these partnerships, a move that will benefit both anti-hunger nonprofit groups and restaurants that have been struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, FEMA has funded federally approved restaurant/nonprofit partnerships at a level of 75 percent, offsetting a large chunk of costs for free meal services offered to people in need. Biden’s order raises FEMA’s share of funds to 100 percent. That means the free meals provided by restaurants will be fully reimbursable, benefiting both for-profit foodservice businesses and nonprofit organizations like food banks, pantries and soup kitchens.

Related: Berry College partners with homeless shelters to train urban farmers

The executive order will make it easier for states and local governments to help nonprofits make more emergency food deliveries and feed more food-insecure children during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign website.

this photo shows two adorable little black girls enjoying a free meal from No Kid Hungry

Children enjoy a nutritious free meal provided by No Kid Hungry.

Biden signed the order after a bipartisan group in Congress introduced the FEED (FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries) Act, which is backed by Chef José Andrés and the global nonprofit World Central Kitchen. But since even bipartisan bills can take months to earn congressional approval, the Biden administration opted to speed things up, said Monica Gonzales, director of federal advocacy for No Kid Hungry, in a statement on the nonprofit’s website.

“The executive order means we don’t have to worry about whether or not the bill is going to languish in legislative limbo,” Gonzales said. “This measure brings forward every resource the government has to address this national hunger crisis and opens the door to innovative ways in which we can feed children.”

It can also save jobs in the restaurant industry, which has been crippled by the pandemic. Restaurants shed 2.5 million jobs in 2020 as shelter-at-home orders went into effect and many state and city governments shut down or limited dine-in service to stem the spread of the coronavirus. These job losses have exacerbated the food insecurity crisis.

Related: Canadian study suggests stereotypes about homeless people are wrong

World Central Kitchen works with restaurants to help feed underserved communities nationwide through its program, Restaurants for the People. The program reimburses restaurants for producing meals that get distributed to local people in need.

“The real key here is that every dollar that goes back into these restaurants ends up paying for staff, paying for the food coming from suppliers,” said Central World Kitchen CEO Nate Mook. “It keeps that economic engine going so that the business can keep running and [restaurant workers] can keep buying food so they don’t become food-insecure themselves.”

No Kid Hungry volunteers pack free meals for people facing food insecurity.

Douglass Williams, chef and owner of MIDA Restaurant in Boston, said the World Central Kitchen program helped his business at a difficult time during the pandemic last year. “We had to close down for about a month and a half,” he said. “Then this opportunity came along. It was a scary time, and everyone was just spinning.’”

Thanks to creating meals for the hungry through MIDA’s collaboration with World Central Kitchen, his staff was busy in the kitchen once more, Williams said. “Front-of-the-house people were cooking in the back and chopping vegetables and grabbing knives. It was a lovely, crazy and exciting time because everybody just wants to work, and we were also helping our own community,” he said.

Biden’s executive order will immediately free up additional government funds for tackling food insecurity, but state and local leaders have an important role to play, Gonzales noted. “It will be incumbent upon local agencies, cities, counties, governors [and] state agencies to work together with nonprofits and others to get those plans in front of FEMA and get them approved immediately.”

Campbell University Joins Collegiate Hunger Challenge to Combat Food Insecurity

Sullivan Foundation partner school Campbell University is participating in the second annual Collegiate Hunger Challenge, where it will compete against 11 other North Carolina colleges and universities for up to $22,000 to put toward fighting hunger on and around campus.

The Collegiate Hunger Challenge was created in 2018 by Food Lion Feeds and North Carolina Campus Compact, a collaborative network of colleges and universities committed to educating students for civic and social responsibility. In the competition, which runs now through April 25, Campbell will earn points based on several activities the school participates in, all centered around collecting and donating food for neighbors in need or hunger awareness.

Related: This “Dogoodr” uses technology to feed the hungry and reduce food waste

“We know hunger on and around college campuses is a significant issue, and we’re excited to partner with the next generation of leaders to find solutions for our neighbors in need,” said Emma Inman, director of external communications and community relations at Food Lion. “We were so impressed with the creativity and excitement in the inaugural contest last year and can’t wait to see this year’s participants’ fresh, innovative ideas to fight hunger in their communities.”

As part of the challenge, each school nominates an MVP Student Hunger Ambassador who is responsible for leading the effort on each campus.

Campbell has selected Morgan Pajak and Alex Gooding, divinity and public health students respectively, as the MVP Student Hunger Ambassadors leading the Collegiate Hunger Challenge campaign. They were selected because of deep connections to food security-related programs on the Campbell campus, including a Campus Pantry, Mustard Seed Community Garden and the Campus Kitchen food reclamation program. The faculty/staff mentor is Brian Foreman.

The North Carolina Campus Compact responds to the needs of North Carolina and its communities, with a special focus on combating food insecurity.

This “DoGoodr” Uses Technology to Feed the Hungry and Reduce Food Waste

As millions of Americans go hungry, restaurants across the country keep throwing away perfectly good food every day. It’s a troubling problem that social entrepreneur Jasmine Crowe hopes to solve—at least in the Atlanta area—with a mission-driven business called Goodr that uses technology to feed the hungry and reduce food waste.

Aside from the disturbing moral and ethical implications of tossing edible food in dumpsters, Crowe realized that, from the perspective of a business owner, wasted food is wasted money. She founded Goodr as a food waste management company and B corporation that helps businesses measure and reduce food waste, keep track of surplus food and earn tax savings while helping address the problem of food insecurity.

“Hunger is not an issue of scarcity. It’s a matter of logistics,” Crowe explained to Black Enterprise. “At Goodr, we’re solving the surplus food supply chain problem, ensuring the safe delivery of this food from businesses that have it to nonprofit organizations and people that need it, all while allowing businesses for the first time to be able to track, account, and earn from their donations. We focus on connecting the business and the nonprofit, and our logistics platform is what we built that does that for us.”

That logistics platform, an app called Blockchain, serves as a secure ledger. It allows companies to track the donations of their surplus food while taking advantage of significant tax deductions using Goodr’s IRS-compliant form. The platform provides predictive data to improve purchasing and make better production decisions, which helps reduce food waste. It also provides analytics on food waste, calculates tax savings for the food donated by Goodr’s clients and measures the community impact of their donations.

this photo depicts Jasmine Crowe and her Goodr team that works to feed the hungry and reduce food waste

Social entrepreneur Jasmine Crowe (third from left) leads the Goodr team in its mission to feed the hungry and reduce food waste in Atlanta.

As for the food itself, Goodr picks up donated food from the individual client businesses and delivers it to nonprofits, who then get it into the hands of hungry people. According to Forbes, Goodr’s clients include Turner Broadcasting Systems, Georgia World Congress Center and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, among others.

Crowe has been working to help feed the hungry and the food-insecure since she first moved to Atlanta six years ago. “I was just driving through downtown and saw hundreds of people that were experiencing homelessness on the streets,” she told Black Enterprise. “I felt really compelled that I had to do something.”

For starters, she began cooking and serving meals to the homeless, first in the streets and later in a pop-up restaurant called Sunday Soul that provided five-course meals to the homeless and hungry. She estimates she served more than 80,000 meals to the food-insecure since 2013. But she wasn’t getting any help from local businesses to pay for all that food.

“When a video from one of my pop-up restaurants went viral, I saw a lot of people asking me which restaurants and grocery stores donated the food, and the reality was that the answer was zero,” she recalled to Forbes in 2018. “It got me thinking, why don’t these restaurants and businesses donate food? This is when I started thinking of solutions to get this food to people in need. I knew there had to be a better way, and I saw technology as the conduit to the change I wanted to create.”

this photo shows a Goodr team member talking about reducing food waste and composting

Goodr isn’t just about feeding the hungry and reducing food waste. At a TasteofATL event at the Atlanta airport, Goodr’s “trash talkers” helped educate attendees on waste and compost.

Meanwhile, Crowe was also struck by the proliferation of food delivery companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates. “It dawned on me that we were spending millions of dollars to create new technologies to get food to people who never have issues with access to food, but what were we doing with all the millions of people that are never knowing where their next meal is coming from?” Crowe told Black Enterprise.

Crowe sees Goodr as, first and foremost, a food waste management company, but it’s a company that uses surplus food as food should be used—to feed people, not rats in a landfill. “The businesses are already paying somebody to throw the food away,” she said in the Black Enterprise interview. “There’s always a fee that’s being paid to eliminate trash.”

Crowe’s business model creates a win-win-win: Goodr turns a profit while empowering other businesses to better serve their communities and feed the hungry—and reap tax rewards for doing the right thing. In the Forbes interview, Crowe said Goodr has diverted more than 1 million pounds of food from landfills while creating more than 940,000 meals for the hungry. “We’ve created programs like our pop-up grocery stores [and] a neighborhood eats program [and] created access to food [for] thousands of people who were faced with going to bed hungry simply because of transportation barriers that prevented people from accessing food.”