MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 10, 2017 – Partnering with local non-profits, Wayzata-based food, agriculture and nutrition company Cargill is investing in improving the way Minneapolis kids eat, learn and learn to eat well. In addition to funding education programs, the Cargill Foundation contributed more than $1.9 million in grants in 2016 to improve access to nutritious food and nutrition education for more than 300,000 children ages 2-12 in the Twin Cities.
Since 2013, Cargill has worked with more than 28 partner organizations and contributed more than $5.3 million, mostly in Minneapolis and its Northern and Western Suburbs. North Minneapolis, in particular, is known as one of the nation’s foremost food deserts.
“Although we are a global company, it is important that we have a focus on advancing nutrition locally,” said Tolá Oyewole, director of the Cargill Foundation. “We are committed to our local community and decided one of the best ways for the Foundation to contribute is to focus on Cargill’s purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.”
The programs that received Cargill Foundation funding range from classroom education about the value of good nutrition to hands-on experience in community gardens and kitchens. Through the work of local non-profits, children and their families not only learn about nutritious food, they also learn how to grow and cook it.
Through its local partnerships, the Cargill Foundation places a special focus on the intersection of nutrition and education. “Hungry kids are not able to learn well,” said Oyewole. “When students are properly nourished, their ability to learn increases.”
One of the Cargill childhood nutrition grant recipients is Pillsbury United Communities, which provides nutrition education to children and families, and is now building North Market, a community grocery store that will serve as a hub for wellness, with integrated health and community resources. The store is designed to improve access to healthy food in North Minneapolis.
“Cargill’s been very consistent in its funding and approach,” said Chanda Smith Baker, Pillsbury United Communities’ president and CEO. “That has allowed us year-over-year to build on the strength of the previous year. From a community perspective, that means continuity – the ability to be consistent in our work, and dependable for local families.”
Among the other local projects the Cargill Foundation supports are:
- Appetite for Change, a North Minneapolis organization that approaches childhood nutrition in a “holistic” way, offering cooking workshops, urban farming and other hands-on experience for kids, young adults and their families. The group’s popular community restaurant Breaking Bread opened 18 months ago.
- Urban Ventures, which grows fresh produce at its urban farm and distributes it at affordable prices during the growing season via a refrigerated Mobile Farmers' Market truck. The program provides education and employment to local youth and families, as well as skills from farming to finance.
- YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, which provides 28,000 meals annually to 750 local youth at a cost of $3.35/youth/meal, salad and snack. The Mezile YMCA location in North Minneapolis has partnered with three to six local, minority-owned farms. Focusing on growing and eating locally, the participants and their families experience food from seed to table, as well as take home food and recipes that they experience and learn at the Y.
Improving childhood nutrition locally is a sustained effort, but the work is beginning to yield positive results, said Oyewole. “We’re making steady progress, but we’ll know our true impact when we see that more children and their families are eating nutritious food and it’s easy to come by and affordable in their neighborhoods.”
Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Together with farmers, customers, governments and communities, we help people thrive by applying our insights and 150 years of experience. We have 150,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work. For more information, visit Cargill.com and our News Center.