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Farm Innovations in MN Seen as Tool in Ending Racial Hunger Divide

An emerging initiative aims to connect BIPOC communities with healthier and culturally appropriate foods, and it starts by elevating the people growing those items. Unemployment remains low in the U.S., but hunger relief networks report record demand.

Marcus Carpenter founded Minnesota's Route 1 organization and said struggles run deep in communities of color. His team focuses on providing technical assistance to Black, brown and Indigenous farmers who can grow more food and distribute it to these populations.

A new grant allows Route 1 to try out different approaches, such as partnering with a company on "freight farms."

"They refurbish old shipping containers; they totally gut these shipping containers out," Carpenter explained. "They implement hydroponic technology that allows urban farmers and other farmers who don't have access to land outside to be able to grow fresh produce inside these shipping containers."

And it is not just the typical fresh produce most Americans are accustomed to. Carpenter pointed out emerging farmers can grow items closely aligned with their cultural heritage. He acknowledged addressing gaps within the nation's food system can be very complex, but added local solutions go a long way in creating efficiencies in the pursuit of equality.

Route 1 is boosting access through a $250,000 grant from the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

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