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How Phoenix Feeds The Hungry With Fresh Food While Saving Local Businesses and Farms

All over the world, people have found all kinds of innovative ways to support each other during the coronavirus pandemic, but so have governments. In Arizona, the city of Phoenix has managed to save dozens of farms and restaurants, while offering free meals to those who need it most.

Between July and December 2020, the Feed Phoenix program provided more than 50,000 meals to local residents, an astonishing feat in itself, but only the beginning.

When the city received its federal funding from the CARES Act in April, it could simply have directed the money to food banks. Instead, he asked a nonprofit group, Local First Arizona, to take a more holistic approach to propping up the city’s food system.

The resulting Feed Phoenix program has been a success on all fronts, connecting struggling farmers with restaurants and caterers in need of business. The nonprofit organization buys produce directly from farms and then pays restaurants to prepare and deliver free meals to citizens in need.

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The meals are then distributed to 30 locations, such as food banks, free of charge to those in need. What’s more, it is a fresh, ready-to-eat food, much more nutritious than the canned and boxed foods normally available in these places.

Local First Arizona I was in a unique position to take on this project. For years, the charity has been working with approximately 3,000 locally owned businesses to promote local shopping.

“The city could have awarded a very large contract to a very large company to prepare all those meals,” Kimber Lanning, founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization, told Bloomberg. “Instead, we decided to create a program to touch as many companies as possible.”

The Sana Sana Foods chef said they had to shut down all their operations due to the pandemic. “This program has helped us feed our community, but in my commercial kitchen (which) we activated again through this grant,” said Maria Parra Cano, who makes hundreds of delicious vegetarian burritos for Feed Phoenix events throughout the year. year.

Funds were scheduled to run out for Feed Phoenix this month, but due to its phenomenal success, the city council designated enough money to fund Local First Arizona well into the spring.

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Its impact will be felt long after that, too, thanks to the many connections forged between local businesses and farms that plan to continue working together.

“What’s going to be left behind is a stronger community food network,” Phoenix’s environmental programs coordinator Roseanne Albright told Bloomberg. “Restaurants realize the value and excellent product our farmers can offer, and they want to continue those connections.”

You can donate to Local First Arizona, here. (Photo credit: Lisa Campbell)

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