FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USDA Grant Fuels Expansion of Freshlist, Strengthening Charlotte's Food Hub
November 7, 2023
Charlotte, NC — Freshlist is excited to announce a grant award of $749,669 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, awarded under the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). This pivotal funding not only propels Freshlist’s expansion to meet increasing demand for local food from professional chefs, consumers, and community food programs, but also reinforces its vital role as the Queen City’s dedicated food hub.
"As Freshlist nears its tenth year, this grant marks a significant milestone, paving the way for an exciting new chapter in our mission to cultivate a thriving local food system and establish the Queen City as a benchmark for local agriculture,” said Freshlist Cofounder & CEO Jesse Leadbetter.
“Especially after the pandemic, demand for locally grown food has soared in the district, and businesses like Freshlist have responded to meet the moment,” said Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee.
Since launching in 2017, Freshlist’s food hub has channeled nearly $9 million into the local economy supporting over 120 small-scale, family-owned farms across the Carolinas. This funding will support the expansion of the company’s Belmont Community-based headquarters and its refrigerated delivery fleet, enabling increased procurement from local farmers and broadened distribution within the region.
As a key member of the South Carolina Food Hub Network and the Eastern Food Hub Collaborative, Freshlist has been instrumental in connecting Charlotte to the regional food system, expanding market access for local farmers to culinary destinations like Charleston and Washington DC. These partnerships also fuel Charlotte's culinary renaissance by providing chefs access to a wider variety of the region’s seasonal offerings. Additionally, collaborations with local non-profits like The Bulb, Hearts & Hands Food Pantry, and Refugee Support Services bolster the company’s efforts to alleviate food insecurity by channeling fresh, local food to communities experiencing food apartheid.
“Food hubs like Freshlist provide critical infrastructure in rapidly growing cities, connecting farmers and consumers, stimulating the local economy, and bolstering food security,” Leadbetter adds. “We are eager to showcase the impact possible when government support is aligned with reputable, boots-on-the-farm organizations, and hope it inspires informed engagement and increased support at the local level.”
Founded in 2014 initially as a tech venture, Freshlist launched its food hub in 2017, creating a thriving network that connects Charlotte’s chefs and consumers to local farmers by providing the critical infrastructure and support for farmers to market their harvests. Now recognized as one of the East Coast's premier food hubs, Freshlist adheres to a farmers-first ethos, striving to cultivate a vibrant local food system where small-scale family farmers thrive and consumers enjoy access to fresh, locally-sourced produce.