World Central Kitchen Puerto Rico made a commitment with the Clinton Foundation to add $4 million in funds that will be used exclusively in Puerto Rico with the mission of promoting sustainable agriculture projects on the island under the “Plow to Plate” support platform, the nonprofit announced.
“Plow to Plate” offers financial support and training to small farmers, community-based projects, volunteer and agro-tourism programs, as well as business initiatives in the food sector with the goal of strengthening Puerto Rico’s agricultural ecosystem, increasing local harvests to feed households with fresh products from the island and help reduce food insecurity tied to food imports.
These funds will make the aid viable until 2023. The announcement was made during the Clinton Global Initiative meeting 2019 held in San Juan this week.
“In Puerto Rico, World Central Kitchen is investing in small farmers, whose dream is to cut Puerto Rico’s food imports, which account for 90 percent of the food they consume, by half,” said Chef José Andrés, who in 2010 founded the non-governmental, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting world hunger and poverty.
“We become a wind in that sail. The farmers are here, they only need help sometimes. By approving a little grant, a small investment, we can help them fly,” said Andrés during a panel discussion moderated by President Bill Clinton earlier this week as part of a program of activities organized by the Clinton Foundation.
World Central Kitchen has already assisted 35 farmers in Puerto Rico, with plans to expand that to at least 200 farms across the island, Andrés said.
“We believe that farming is what gives resilience to places like Puerto Rico. We need good, smart infrastructure of small farmers to spread all over,” he said.
World Central Kitchen Puerto Rico announced that it is creating strategic alliances with other local entities that are interested in being part of the “Plow to Plate” initiative.
Among the companies that have already agreed to participate is Triple S, with a contribution of $100,000 to support the initiative.
“With these partnerships, we will be able to impact 200 projects, train an additional 300 people and coordinate a minimum of 4,000 volunteers who want to join these initiatives to help our farmers,” said Mikol Hoffman, manager of World Central Kitchen in Puerto Rico.
Grants for Puerto Rico participants include funds for infrastructure that can increase the production capacity of agricultural projects, technical and business training for agribusinesses to improve their skills in sales, marketing, business management and finance, among others.
Similarly, initiatives in agrotourism seek to promote visits from tourists who want to participate in helping farms and agricultural projects as part of their stay in Puerto Rico.
During the panel discussion on Tuesday, Clinton noted that food is more expensive in island nations and in Puerto Rico, the “real controversy is that in Puerto Rico, the average meal costs 10 percent more than in the mainland. And the food assistance program is smaller here than in the mainland, which doesn’t make a lick of sense.”
“Growing food here would be more affordable, fresher and subject to certain standards that would make it more nutritious,” Clinton said.