Urban Harvest STL (UHSTL), a St. Louis nonprofit striving to create an inclusive, local food system, has joined the Newman’s Own Foundation $500k Holiday Challenge, a friendly fundraising campaign designed for charitable organizations. Urban Harvest STL is raising money to support its four urban farms, which produce more than 5,000 pounds of fresh, healthy produce for the community annually, and competing for half of $1 million in prize money.

More than 700,000 residents across the metro region live in areas of concentrated poverty without ready access to a grocery store. While these so-called food deserts are less likely to contain high-quality supermarkets, many do contain an overabundance of fast food chains and convenience stores selling cheap foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, which can have serious long-term effects if eaten frequently, including poor nutrition and health, and decreased cognitive and academic performance.

“Access to quality, affordably-priced food is a basic human right,” said Mary Ostafi, Executive Director of Urban Harvest STL. “Unfortunately, we know where we live matters – it shapes whether we can easily get basic necessities and predicts life expectancy and overall health. The belief that all St. Louisans should have equitable access to nutritious, culturally-relevant food, regardless of socioeconomic status or location, drives our work at Urban Harvest STL and compels us to produce and distribute food as fairly as possible.”

UHSTL grows more than 250 varieties of organic crops in the heart of the city – where the region’s most pressing nutritional needs exist – and donates the majority of its harvest to local nonprofit partners serving the underserved and under-resourced: a downtown food pantry for those experiencing or at-risk of becoming homeless, a mobile farmers market on wheels that travels to north side neighborhoods without supermarkets, an emergency food assistance program for those unable to make it out to the food bus, and a healthy meal service provided in conjunction with free fitness and nutrition programs offered throughout northern St. Louis City and County. UHSTL also engages and empower people of all backgrounds through educational programming, fitness classes, events and volunteerism at its internationally-acclaimed FOOD ROOF Farm.

UHSTL joined the Newman’s Own Foundation $500k Holiday Challenge to build capacity, create engagement and use the power of the crowd to provide a funding stream for the maintenance of its urban agriculture sites in downtown St. Louis, on the north riverfront and in the Carr Square and JeffVanderLou neighborhoods. The Challenge launched on CrowdRise, a crowdfunding platform dedicated exclusively to charitable fundraising, on November 21, 2017 and runs through January 3, 2018. There are 10 grand prizes up for grabs with the team that raises the most online winning $150,000 and 10th place winning $2,500. Weekly bonus challenges enable charities to win up to another $115,000.

From December 5-12, the top three competing organizations to engage the most donors will get a chance at prizes designed to create engagement and awareness of nonprofit causes, including a full-page spread in Newsweek.

“With your support, we can elevate the conversation regarding the right for equitable food access for all,” said Ostafi. “More importantly, we can continue to grow food for people who need it the most in our community and improve the health and resilience of our neighborhoods.”

To help Urban Harvest STL win the Challenge, head to crowdrise.com/urban-harvest-stl1M

Via Press Release