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Posts Tagged ‘think tank’

There’s a new think tank at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, one that’s focused on food access.

Food access, food “deserts,” and sustainable agriculture are big issues these days, and Food Sol founder Rachel Greenberger believes that addressing the challenges must involve bringing together all the stakeholders, even agribusiness.

Greenberger refers to her strategy as the “uncommon table,” writes Kathleen Pierce in the Boston Globe. “Located at Babson’s Social Innovation Lab, the company seeks to identify how so-called food deserts — geographical areas without access to a grocery store or fresh food — are formed, and how to make healthy food sustainable for all. …

“Greenberger, a 33-year-old Babson MBA graduate who studied food-system dynamics and consumer behavior in the sustainable food movement, came up with the concept for a company similar to a think tank, but centered on action. By creating a digital map to pinpoint food-related issues, Food Sol intends to highlight pressing topics such as food deserts and fair trade, linking experts in the field with would-be entrepreneurs to ignite working relationships. …

“Food Sol intends to foster ‘a way into thinking about innovation in the food-supply chain, whether it’s creating more cooperatives or building agribusiness in Fall River,’ says Cheryl Kiser [executive director of Babson’s innovation lab]. ‘We are a laboratory where people can come and engage in conversation.’ ”

The theory is that companies will pay to engage in a food think tank like this. In fact, Kiser hopes to involve Cargill Inc., Monsanto Co. , PepsiCo , the Coca-Cola Co., and more. Read more here.

The mention of entrepreneurs who might address food issues is reminding me of two young women who recently launched shipping-container grocery stores in food deserts. Read about that in this NY Times article.

“Carrie Ferrence, 33, and Jacqueline Gjurgevich, 32, were in business school at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington State when they noticed that many local neighborhoods were ‘food deserts,’ without easy access to fresh local produce and other grocery staples.

“Their answer was StockBox Grocers, a company that repurposes old shipping containers as small grocery stores. The company won $12,500 in a local business plan competition and raised more than $20,000 online in a Kickstarter campaign to finance its first store, which opened in the Delridge neighborhood of Seattle in September.”

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In a Yes! magazine op-ed, reprinted in the Christian Science Monitor, Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures writes about his favorite topic: the potential of older Americans to contribute beyond retirement.

“With big thinking,” he writes, “there is a chance to tap the talents and experience of the ‘baby boom’ generation to solve longstanding social problems, from health care to homelessness, education to the environment. There is a chance to turn an older population into a new workforce for social change.

“Some people, like Gary Maxworthy, are leading the way … [Around age 60] he thought a lot about his old Peace Corps dream and the prospect of returning to it. In the end, he chose a more manageable domestic option, VISTA, part of the AmeriCorps national service program. VISTA placed Maxworthy at the San Francisco Food Bank, where he discovered that—like food banks throughout the state of California—it was primarily giving out canned and processed food. It was all they could reliably deliver without food spoiling.

“Maxworthy knew that California farmers were discarding tons of blemished but wholesome fruits and vegetables that were not up to supermarket standards. He launched Farm to Family, a program that in 2010 distributed more than 100 million pounds of fresh food to needy families in California.” Read more.

For those who are interested in “encore careers,” check out Encore.org, by Civic Ventures, “a nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.”

 

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