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Transporting Nutrition to Food Deserts: CSX and The Conservation Fund launch grant program to support transportation of fresh food to underserved communities

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- CSX and The Conservation Fund today announced a program of grants aimed at improving the transportation and distribution of fresh, healthy food to communities in need. More than 23 million Americans across the country have limited or no access to fresh produce, dairy, meats and seafood. One of the contributors to these so-called "food deserts" is the lack of infrastructure to distribute fresh food to markets.

As a leading supplier of efficient rail-based freight transportation in North America, CSX recognized the integral role that local distribution plays in bringing fresh food to the people who need it. Many producers and organizations are challenged to retain food quality and safety as they sell, store, package, and distribute produce and other goods to the communities they serve.

To support local distribution and help address this need, CSX and The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding conservation solutions that balance environmental and economic needs, teamed up to create a program that will help farmers and distributors enhance their delivery capabilities.

Grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 will be made available to entities that distribute fresh produce/perishable food in the 23 states where CSX operates. The grants can support a range of activities related to transportation such as:

  • acquiring refrigerated vehicles for direct delivery to markets;
  • financing "veggie vans" to bring fresh food to isolated communities;
  • providing better access to food hubs or other sites where produce, dairy, seafood and meats can be stored safely for distribution; or
  • purchasing produce boxes and cold storage bins to keep unsold food fresh for the next day's farmers market or wholesale purchase.

"This program provides a lifeline to Americans who struggle to make fresh food a part of their daily meals," said Kris Hoellen, Vice President of Sustainable Programs for The Conservation Fund. "With CSX's help, we're connecting our most vulnerable populations to healthy, fresh food by addressing local gaps in food distribution systems. Efficient distribution of healthy food also means more effective use of natural resources required for sustainable agricultural practices."

"This program truly demonstrates the power of partnerships, drawing on the strengths of both CSX and The Conservation Fund to identify solutions that serve the communities in which we live and work every day," said Tori Kaplan, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSX. "Facilitating fresh and healthy food distribution to underserved communities is exemplary of CSX's core value of right results, right way."

Grant applications are due by October 1, 2014. To download a grant application and see more information about the program, please visit http://www.conservationfund.org/partner-with-us/corporate-partners/profiles/csx/ or contact Margarita Carey at [email protected].

CSX is also working with The Conservation Fund on a program that is improving access to healthy food in five underserved counties in West VirginiaCalhoun, McDowell, Mingo, Roane and Wirt.

CSX has long been a supporter of The Conservation Fund's work. CSX has helped restore critical habitat at two national wildlife refuges through the donation of more than 13,000 trees and is helping reconnect children and nature with the creation of a school curriculum unit that teaches kids about the environment, math, science and economics through real-world freight transportation scenarios.

About CSX

CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company.  It provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. For more than 185 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation's economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation's population resides. It also links more than 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports with major population centers and small farming towns alike.

CSX is committed to helping communities it serves live healthier, greener, safer lives. The company recognizes the importance for these communities to gain regular access to locally grown, nutrient-rich, fresh food.  That's why CSX is supporting these grants to enable farmers, churches, towns, cities, neighborhoods, and community groups to transport fresh food to people who need it, as part of a healthier lifestyle.

About The Conservation Fund

At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect America's most important lands and waterways for future generations. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. We strive to implement strategies that support sustainable economic development, spark cutting-edge conservation and bridge connections between people and the land. Top-ranked, we're advancing vibrant, healthy communities. www.conservationfund.org

SOURCE CSX

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