Advanced Purchasing Pilot Continues

by | Apr 23, 2024 | HIF Grantmaking

Healthcare Initiative Foundation (HIF) is pleased to announce its second-year investment in Manna Food Center’s (Manna) Advanced Purchasing Pilot. Through the Foundation’s FY24 Emerging Needs portfolio, Manna will receive $47,500 to continue this innovative project. In FY23, $50,000 was invested to bring culturally-important fresh produce to historically under-invested communities which were in dire need of fresh, healthy produce. This proof-of-concept investment was a response to the Foundation engaging with community partners throughout 2022 about food insecurity issues related to the lack of fresh produce coming into Montgomery County after COVID emergency funds expired.

The Advanced Purchasing Pilot is molded by the highly successful Farm to Food Bank model. This pilot is designed to be mutually beneficial and sustainable for both the community and local farmers: food providers get culturally-important produce for their residents, farmers get paid a fair rate in advance for their goods and services, and community members receive healthy, farm-to-table produce!

The Gaithersburg C.A.R.E Hub receives produce made available through the FY23 Emerging Needs Advanced Pilot Purchasing grant from HIF.

Manna’s initial 16-week pilot project in the spring and summer of 2023 was a remarkable success. 1,100 residents received more than 18,000 pounds of fresh produce from two local farms! The Gaithersburg C.A.R.E Hub partnered with Farm at Our House (Brookville) to receive more than 8,000 pounds of produce, a 3,924% increase from the previous year. Lewis Orchards (Germantown) provided 10,650 pounds of produce to Kingdom Fellowship AME Church, more than exceeding the Farm to Food Bank goal for this partnership.

The FY24 funding will connect three Montgomery County-based farms (Dodo Farms, Sandy Spring Gardens, and One Acre Farm) with three food provider partners (Clifton Park Hub, AfriThrive, and The Upcounty Hub). Over the course of 4 to 6 months, more than 20,000 pounds of fresh produce will be delivered.

According to Manna, “The success of this pilot [in 2023] created a blueprint for replication in year two [2024]. Our intent is to conduct a contract growing project with farms that have different characteristics, such as smaller acreage and disparate labor force in order to see how well the model adapts to farms of differing capacities.”

This project falls under the Foundation’s Food Security Initiatives. For more information on this project or the work of our other grantees, please reach out to HIF’s Director of Grants and Community Impact, Elissa [email protected].