Food touches nearly everything in our world. Our “food system” is a complex web of partnerships and policies that determine how we manage food – how we grow it, process it, distribute it, consume it, promote it, waste it, and more. This has significant implications on our health and that of our planet. When we mismanage our food system, we experience a variety of consequences like hunger, obesity, heart disease, food deserts, food waste, and climate change.
1 IN 5 CHILDREN
In Central Florida, one in five children, struggle with food insecurity – not knowing where their next meal is coming from. And yet, each year nearly one billion pounds of fresh Florida produce never reaches its intended market because it ends up in animal feed or landfills. Despite Florida being the nation’s second largest agricultural producer, the food that reaches our plates often travels more than 1,500 miles, losing not only flavor, but key nutrients along the way.
The best way to tackle the complexities of our broken global food system is to start by strengthening our local food system.
Over the course of more than a decade, 4 Rivers stayed true to its original mission as a barbeque ministry born out of a passion for helping others in need. Out of that passion grew a philanthropic initiative centered around building a better food future. In 2015, CEO John Rivers began laying the groundwork for what would become 4Roots, a nonprofit focused on unearthing the power of food to build healthy communities.
4Roots, is an alliance of community stakeholders investing in a healthy thriving, sustainable, food system. It connects local growers to distributors and to consumers, while creating jobs, improving health and increasing our quality of life in the process. 4Roots is dedicated to improving access to fresh nutritious food and helping educate others about the connection between food choices and individual health. 4Roots also trains students and farmers to grow fresh produce sustainably, while generating revenue to invest back into the community.
4ROOTS FARM CAMPUS
The centerpiece of 4Roots is the 4Roots Farm Campus which is being developed in the heart of Orlando to serve as a community crossroads that connects and serves everyone – farmers, students, professionals, and families. At its basic level, it is focused on educating and inspiring them to realize their respective roles in building a better food future. Scheduled to break ground in Spring of 2021, the 4Roots Farm Campus will feature hydroponic growing systems and a range of regenerative farming practices that will yield produce for the community. An education center will anchor the campus and serve as a resource for students of all ages who are interested in learning more about agriculture. Future phases also include a farm-to-table restaurant and a culinary health institute.