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United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), a Providence, R.I.-based national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and related products, has created a charitable foundation committed to supporting healthy, sustainable and organic food systems. UNFI Foundation is slated to launch on Aug. 1.
The foundation will fund innovative nonprofit programs spotlighting such issues as sustainable agriculture and organic farming, as well as initiatives to increase organic food production and consumption. The organization will also support educational programs to raise awareness of the benefits of healthy food choices.
Melody Meyer, VP of global initiatives for UNFI subsidiary Albert’s Organics, is executive director of the foundation and will serve on its board of directors along with Steven Spinner, UNFI president and CEO; Michael Funk, UNFI chairman of the board; Thomas Dziki, UNFI SVP, chief human resource and sustainability officer; and Lisa Madsen, UNFI director, sustainability & philanthropy, internal communications.
The company’s philanthropic endeavors include supporting the communities it serves and proactive support of sustainable agriculture and organic farming initiatives, labeling campaigns and nutritional education, among them the Organic Trade Association, the Non-GMO Project, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Eco-Farm Conference, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Services and Vitamin Angels.
Beginning in August, the foundation will accept mission-specific grant applications from eligible 501(c)(3) organizations based in the United States. The foundation’s board will consider each qualified application and expects to begin approving grants later this year. Preliminary information is available online, and application guidelines will be updated later this year.
“The establishment of the foundation speaks to UNFI’s core values,” noted Meyer. “This initiative provides another wonderful opportunity for UNFI to make a meaningful difference, right at the beginning, where it counts. Everything we do starts at the farm.”
UNFI carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to more than 23,000 customer locations throughout the United States and Canada. The company serves a wide variety of retail formats, including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the foodservice channel.