DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation has renewed its support for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) New Roots Program with a two-year, $500,000 grant to help finance expansion of the program’s MicroProducer Academy. The MicroProducer Academy launched in 2013 with a previous grant from the Cultivate Foundation and helps refugee farmers adapt existing agricultural skills to an urban American environment and marketplace, all while improving their access to healthy, locally grown foods.
In its inaugural year, the MicroProducer Academy had 75 participants in Salt Lake City, New York, and Oakland, Calif. Participants grew produce to feed their families, and to sell at farmers markets, through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and to restaurants. The Cultivate Foundation’s initial grant of $200,000 helped establish the MicroProducer Academy in San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, and Charlottesville, Va., and will add Atlanta and Seattle in the coming months.
“Working with the IRC, we are giving refugees access to land, capital and other resources,” said Mark Crumpacker, president and board member of the Cultivate Foundation. “This allows them to provide healthy food for their families and provides employment opportunities in farming, which leverages the skills many of them brought from their native countries.”
According to the Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center, refugees resettled in the U.S. are at an increased risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and hypertension, in part due to ready access to heavily processed, cheap food and lack of access to healthy, nutritious food at affordable prices in many neighborhoods. While access to good food is a growing problem in the U.S., with more than 23.5 million Americans living in so-called food deserts, access to farmland is also a barrier. A New York Times report indicates that the price of farmland doubled from 2000 to 2010, and Farm Aid notes that new farmers—who are more likely to engage in organic farming and diverse crop and livestock operations—find it harder to access traditional resources like credit and crop insurance. These issues are often compounded for refugees rebuilding their lives in the U.S. where the language and customs, and even the grocery stores, present many challenges.
Each year the IRC helps thousands of refugees who have been granted sanctuary in the U.S., resettling over 10,000 refugees in 2013. An essential part of the IRC’s broader resettlement efforts, the New Roots program enables refugees to reestablish their ties to the land, celebrate their heritage and nourish themselves and their neighbors in their new communities.
With funding from the Cultivate Foundation in 2013, the New Roots program established the MicroProducer Academy, a program designed to give refugee farm entrepreneurs access to land, training and business skills they will need to produce food for their families or to develop farming as a business. The program provides information and other resources on such topics as the U.S. food system, production practices, plot preparations, organic and sustainable farming methods, marketing, budgeting and finance, and food preparation and safety.
By June 2016, the IRC expects the MicroProducer Academy to be fully active in at least nine cities. Support from the Cultivate Foundation will enable the IRC to institutionalize the MicroProducer Academy as a cornerstone of its national New Roots program while also providing intermediate and advanced technical assistance to MicroProducer Academy graduates to help them become professional farmers. The Cultivate Foundation grant will also help build a youth version of the MicroProducer Academy—the “Youth Food Justice Academy”—focused on providing immigrant youth leaders resources to support nutrition education, global cuisine and school gardens.
“The partnership and support from the Cultivate Foundation has been instrumental in providing a sanctuary for refugees to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs, and giving them the opportunity to sell what they grow,” said Jennifer Sime, vice president of the IRC’s U.S. programs. “It’s not only the refugee farmers who are benefitting from this program as they start their lives anew in the U.S. – it’s also the community as a whole who are now able to purchase fresh, affordable produce in their neighborhoods.”
For additional information about the New Roots MicroProducer Academy, please visit: Rescue.org/NewRoots.
About the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation
Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) established the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in 2011 to extend its commitment to creating a more sustainable future. The foundation is committed to providing resources and promoting good stewardship for farmers; promoting better livestock husbandry; encouraging regenerative agriculture practices; and fostering better food literacy, cooking education, and nutritious eating. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $2.5 million to likeminded organizations committed to cultivating a better world through food. Visit CultivateFoundation.org for more information.
About the International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. IRC teams provide health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people in 40 countries, with special programs designed for women and children. Every year, the IRC resettles thousands of refugees in 22 U.S. cities. Learn more at Rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.