World Central Kitchen announced its fifth round of grants in Puerto Rico through Plow to Plate, the organization’s food security and resilience program that provides direct financial support to small farmers, fishermen, and food businesses.
The subsidies granted support small businesses related to food production in an effort to regenerate their long-term capacity for the production, distribution and sale of locally produced food with the objective of reducing the high rate of food imports in the island.
On this occasion, the organization received “an overwhelming number of requests from fishermen around” the island and as such a quarter of the participants are fishers from Cabo Rojo, Rincón, Añasco, Fajardo, Culebra and Naguabo.
In addition, Agropek in Peñuelas, Andy’s Farm in San Sebastián, Sembrando la Tierra in Jayuya, Masa Madre in Aguadilla, Ganadería Buenos Aires in Cabo Rojo, De la Crema in Hatillo, Hortalizas Hidropónicas del Oeste in San Germán, Organia in Carite, Puerto Rico, Agrotech in Aguas Buenas, SAO Farm in Hatillo; the Naymar Apiary and La Finca de Hamberto, both in Vieques, the Northwest Area Farmers Association and Cundeamor are also welcomed as new participants.
Desde Mi Huerto, Moica Farm and Pura Parcha projects have returned to the program through a second round of financial support, the nonprofit said.
The grants are used to fund extraordinary capital investments such as tractors, ice makers, walk-in coolers, rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, fishing boat engines, and greenhouses.
WCK also offers access to training in technical areas to improve participant production and business skills to increase sales and access to several markets, and as soon as social distancing security measures allow, the nonprofit organization will resume its volunteer program where locals and visitors can also contribute hours of community service at participating farms.
“Almost two years have passed since we launched Plow to Plate in response to the devastation in agricultural and fishing operations caused by Hurricane María and we are still seeing great need, but also, tremendous determination and perseverance on the part of producers,” said Mikol Hoffman, director of Plow to Plate at WCK.
“Our goal is to help them rebuild and revitalize their operations in a smarter way and look beyond recovery to a future resilient food system, where all Puerto Ricans have decent access to healthy food,” he said.
The WCK Plow to Plate program was established in 2018 in response to the 2017 hurricanes and has since awarded nearly $2 million in grants to food producers affected by natural disasters.
In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program expanded to the U.S. Virgin Islands and The Bahamas in its continued efforts to support food security in the Caribbean.
To date, Plow to Plate has offered more than 3,300 hours of capacity and network development, as well as connecting more than 800 volunteers to work on participating projects.
WCK is the same organization that served more than 200,000 meals alongside Meatball Co, Yummy Dumplings, Cocina Abierta, Wings & Co, Plenitud and Bilí in response to COVID-19.
Plow to Plate opens a call to apply to the program every six months, and the next round of applications will open in September 2020.