Danone Institute North America, a not-for-profit established by Danone North America, White Plains, N.Y., announced the four winning teams in its “One Planet. One Health.” Initiative. The new grant program challenged transdisciplinary teams from across the United States and Canada to design, implement and evaluate actionable community-based projects for sustainable food systems.

The four teams — with involvement from University of Guelph and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, as well as nonprofit organizations Project New Village and the City of Minneapolis — will each receive $20,000 in grant funds to further design and execute their projects, Danone North America said.

Earlier this year, teams from around the nation submitted innovative proposals focused on sustainable food systems solutions. The selected teams stand out for their ingenuity, impact and scalability, Danone North America noted. With this grant, the teams will be able to implement projects that address critical issues such as food waste reduction in households, energy-efficient food production, retaining food growers and farmers, and integrating locally sourced food into school lunches.

“As the world’s largest Certified B Corp, we are committed to applying sustainable practices across our business, while helping other organizations and institutions do the same — particularly on a local level,” said Miguel Freitas, Ph.D., vice president, scientific affairs for Danone North America. “The ‘One Planet. One Health.’ initiative is rooted in community development because we believe local innovators are critical in the role they play in finding effective strategies to improve sustainability in food. By bringing together the next generation of thought leaders with experts who share their passion for sustainable food systems, these scholars and practitioners have an opportunity to also learn from each other.”  

The goal of initiative is to foster transdisciplinary community-based work to promote sustainable food systems globally. As part of this year’s program, the four teams traveled to Boulder, Colo., to participate in a four-day learning expedition about sustainable food systems and present their proposals and communications plans to a panel of experts, the company said.

In addition to the $20,000 in grants each winning team was awarded, the Project New Village team received a supplementary $10,000 prize for presenting the best communication plan for its project. Each team also received coaching by food systems experts and Danone Institute North America board members to facilitate implementation, communication and evaluation of their projects over the next 12 months.  

“The innovative and locally sourced projects submitted reflect the enthusiasm of academics and practitioners across the country to create a healthier world through food,” said Leslie Lytle, president of Danone Institute North America and professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “We are incredibly inspired by this year’s applicants, who are taking action in fostering more sustainable food systems that benefit their local communities. This type of work requires collaboration to make a meaningful impact, and we are excited to bring together these local teams, as well as experts in sustainability and nutrition, to help us foster a new generation of change-agents.”

Danone North America said that the 2019 “One Planet. One Health.” Initiative’s winning teams and projects include:

  • University of Guelph (Canada) — Food Waste Reduction in Families. Food Waste Reduction in Families tests the feasibility, acceptability and impact of a four-week food waste reduction intervention on household food waste and fruit and vegetable intake. This pilot intervention provides 30 families with children with a Food Waste Reduction Toolkit that includes practical tips for parents and children on meal planning, food shopping and storage, along with recipes that showcase strategies to use up foods before they spoil. Families also will participate in education and cooking sessions; receive meal planning worksheets, food shopping lists, and information on food storage; and receive text messages to reinforce food waste reduction messages addressed in the Toolkit. The results of this project will support a larger intervention in the future.
  • City of Minneapolis, Tamales y Bicicletas, Appetite for Change and University of Minnesota — Perennial Health Project. The Perennial Health Project aims to support climate change mitigation and food sovereignty by increasing year-round, energy-efficient food production in food-insecure neighborhoods through passive solar greenhouses. Partners in the project include an architect from the University of Minnesota providing the technical expertise and two BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) community-led organizations, Appetite for Change and Tamales y Bicicletas, which focus on environmental and food justice in chronically underrepresented and disenfranchised populations in Minneapolis. The Perennial Health Project involves construction of and food production within two passive solar greenhouses that use the sun’s light and heat energy as the primary energy source.
  • Project New Village, San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego — Bringing Gardening into the Good Food District: Increasing Gardeners’ Capacity through a Regenerative Community of Practice. This project aims to expand the Good Food District (GFD) vision by reconnecting residential gardeners and farmers from the Greater Southeastern San Diego —  most of whom are low-income people of color — to the broader discourses and practices of regenerative urban agriculture. The overarching goal is to assess the feasibility and benefits of creating and sustaining a community of practice for residential food growers and farmers contributing hyper-local food to the GFD. This initiative turns to urban agriculture as a way to achieve broader goals of food abundance, regenerative place-making, community resilience, and social equity in Greater Southeastern San Diego. Project organizers will develop a system for recruiting and retaining residential food growers to participate in the project.
  • Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University — Assessing the Global Warming Potential and Nutrition Profile of Local Foods in Boston Public Schools. Sustainable food systems are characterized by their contributions to human health, protection of ecosystem resources and provision of equitable and just supply chains. Aware of the potential to shape the food system, the Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Food and Nutrition Services strives to make school menus more healthful and environmentally sustainable, in part by expanding purchases from farms or manufacturers operating in New England. This pilot study facilitates transdisciplinary collaboration among schools, farmers, manufacturers and nutrition researchers to assess the potential nutritional and environmental benefits of including local options on school menus. Researchers will evaluate the nutritional density and global warming potential of the current BPS lunch menu items and will work with local farmers and manufacturers to find alternate products that maintain the nutritional quality of the meals served while reducing their global warming potential.

For more information, please visit www.danoneinstituteNA.org.