Increased Access to Farm Fresh Meals
Tom McDougall and the team at 4P Foods have been “one of the lucky ones” among the many food businesses that have struggled or been overwhelmed by supply shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As grocery stores were emptied and online delivery was seeing spikes in demand, local farms have remained open for business,” says McDougall, whose organization delivers farm-fresh food to homes and businesses in the Washington, D.C. region, and is expanding through Virginia. “It has been an eye-opener for many consumers who, for perhaps the first time, were experiencing food insecurity. I hope this opens everyone’s eyes because there are tens of millions of people who experience it every day.”
4P Foods — the four Ps being Purpose, People, Planet, Prosperity — offers direct sales to consumers and wholesale, local and regional farm-fresh foods to restaurants and stores. Last year, 4P opened a Money Market Deposit Account with Virginia Community Capital after receiving a $1.2 million grant from the PATH Foundation to help fund the construction of a food hub in Vint Hill, Va. Such hubs allow for storage, processing, and distribution of healthy, fresh foods.
A longtime relationship with Tim Grimes, an assistant VP and business deposits manager at VCC, led McDougall to open an account with the financial institution.
“We needed a place to house the grant that would be compliant with the Foundation’s wishes, and an interest-bearing account made a lot of sense,” McDougall says, citing the “economic multipliers” of depositing with an organization that makes mission-focused loans to small businesses and mission-focuses causes. “As a business that advocates for local and regional farms and producers and business, we’ve always tried to bank locally and regionally. And in the case of VCC, we are very much aligned to their mission of supporting communities — it is one of our guiding principles.”
The company sources from environmentally responsible family farmers in the D.C. foodshed, and works closely with food access organizations through donations and programming to get healthy local food into low-income and historically marginalized communities. Beyond the deposit, 4P worked with VCC and a coalition of partners earlier this year to lobby the General Assembly on a bill that is improving food access to food-insecure Virginians. One in 10 households in Virginia is food insecure – meaning these families neither have consistent access to healthy or affordable foods, nor know where their next meal is coming from. Approximately 1.7 million Virginians, including 480,000 children, live in communities with limited access to food retailers and fresh foods.
The company is also working to create more racial equity by supporting farmers of color, helping connect them to futures contracts and loans or grants for equipment. And it has also established the Mid-Atlantic Food Resilience and Access Coalition to help fill gaps in the food system across the region. Learn more and donate to it.