Building Healthy Communities

Grantee Name

GrowNYC

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities

Publication Date

July 2022

Grant Amount

$200,000

Grant Date:

March 2019 - May 2021

For more than 40 years, GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Co. has worked to ensure that all New York City residents in all five boroughs have access to healthy, affordable, and locally-grown food.

A nonprofit food hub and distribution program, Greenmarket Co. assists hundreds of regional farms in distributing their products to New York City’s wholesale marketplace, including farmers markets. Greenmarket farmers market locations transform open spaces into vibrant community centers and make thousands of local products available across New York City. Nearly 50% of its markets are in neighborhoods with less-than-average median household income, and in 2018, the farmers market program facilitated more than $1 million in SNAP benefit sales.

As demand for healthy local food from residents and institutions has increased, so has the need for GrowNYC to expand its capacity and operations. GrowNYC also needed to prepare for the opening of the New York State Regional Food Hub—a state-of-the-art food distribution facility located in the South Bronx. NYHealth awarded GrowNYC a grant to meet this increased demand and help GrowNYC expand its programs.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

GrowNYC saw unprecedented growth over the grant period, especially after it was deemed an essential business during the pandemic:

  • Between May 2019 and May 2020, greenmarkets experienced a surge in business, including SNAP usage, which increased by 22%. Fresh Food Box participation grew by 65%, and GrowNYC’s wholesale distribution to nonprofit organizations increased by 75%.
  • In May 2019, New York State announced funding for the Nourish New York initiative, allowing emergency food organizations to purchase farm products from across the State. GrowNYC distributed 600,000 pounds to recipients through this initiative during the grant period.
  • GrowNYC built its technological and staff capacity to meet the new demands, including transitioning to an improved supply chain software to improve efficiency; upgrading warehouse and logistics operations; developing new relationships with farmers and freight providers; establishing new partnerships with organizations and businesses; and expanding product lines.
  • GrowNYC increased its total food distribution to underserved communities and increased the variety of products available through its Youthmarket and Fresh Food Box programs.

Because so many community-based organizations were establishing emergency food distribution programs for the first time as a result of the pandemic, GrowNYC shared best practices for sanitation and distancing with them, and its site became a national model. It also helped to develop new supply chains for local farms.

The New York State Regional Food Hub is anticipated to increase GrowNYC’s wholesale distribution from 5.4 million pounds of fresh produce in 2020 to an estimated 20 million pounds when fully operational. The Hub will also help GrowNYC respond to the growing need of emergency food assistance.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged:

Goldman Family Foundation ($25,000); Intl Eckart Witzigmann Award, ($50,000); New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets ($120,000); Fund for Public Health in New York ($47,000); USDA Community Food Projects ($49,000); USDA Local Food Promotion Program ($121,000); and the New York City Council ($557,000).