Creating Sustainable Food Systems for Underserved Communities

The George Washington University and Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit focused on creating sustainable, equitable food systems, has announced a partnership to conduct research in the areas of food, nutrition, and food policy. While Wholesome Wave has partnerships with hospitals and community health centers, this is its first academic partnership.

Utilizing the resources of the university’s Urban Food Task Force, Milken Institute School of Public Health, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the Rodham Institute, the goal is to advance research in nutrition policy, health care costs, and food systems through the analysis and evaluation of shared data between the two organizations and to seek opportunities to advance knowledge through research and education as food and nutrition.

“The GW Wholesome Wave collaboration aligns our interests for mutually beneficial results that are sorely needed in nutrition policy, food systems research, and food policy. This partnership has many areas for collaboration and interest that should result in favorable outcomes to under-served communities,” says Tom Russo, assistant vice president for industry research at GW.

With events like its annual Apple Day, in which teachers give apples to students, and the Eye on Food film series, GW has been expanding and communicating knowledge of healthy foods, cooking classes, on-campus food choices, composting, edible landscaping, and sustainable eating. The partnership with Wholesome Wave helps facilitates learning opportunities for GW students and expands the outreach into the community to places where Wholesome Wave currently runs two of their signature programs – the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) and Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx).

Wholesome Wave is dedicated to making healthy, locally, and regionally grown food affordable and accessible for everyone, regardless of income. Their Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) and Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) greatly enhance the purchasing power of low-income families at farmer’s markets to ensure they are able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables. These programs increase fruit and vegetable consumption, enhance the health of low-income adults and children suffering from diet-related diseases, and improve local economies.

“Wholesome Wave is thrilled to partner with the George Washington University on this groundbreaking relationship. Working with GW will build on the success of our current programs in Washington, D.C. by achieving greater impact in the local community, as well as educating and engaging with a new generation of students and clinicians. The results will undoubtedly be far-reaching, It is our hope that this partnership will result in a model that can be replicated in academia throughout the country,” says Wholesome Wave CEO and founder Michel Nischan.

Wholesome Wave has programs in 25 states with more than 3,500 participating farmers and more than 70 community-based program partners. They launched their programs in Washington, D.C., in 2009, and currently work with four D.C. partners to administer the DVCP and FVRx. Local partners include, Columbia Heights Community Marketplace, DC Greens, Ward 8 Farmers Market, and Unity Health Care.

“The interest across campus as it relates to food has never been greater. This collaboration with such an innovative organization, boosts our efforts,” says Dawnita Altieri, manager of strategic alliances and communications director for GW’s Food Initiatives, working with Diane Knapp, chair of GW’s Urban Food Task Force.

The partnership will also allow for faculty and students to engage in research to promote greater visibility, and influence decision makers on the importance of increasing access to sustainable food for underserved communities.

Source: George Washington University

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