By Joey Graham
Indiana News Service
New research by an Indiana nonprofit coalition reveals areas for innovation which could help minimize food insecurity.
The report showed technology could be developed to educate more people about healthy food choices, or create more nutritious and affordable food products. It suggested the private sector can play a bigger role in these innovations.
Mitch Frazier, president and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, said combating food insecurity will take an “all-hands-on-deck” approach.
“It’s a portfolio of solutions that will best connect food supply and food demand,” Frazier outlined. “Food pantries will be a piece of it, retail grocery will be a piece of it, technology will be a piece of it. But ultimately this can’t be on any one of those individual pointed. This has to be a portfolio solution.”
AgriNovus Indiana partnered with Purdue Ag to identify opportunities for innovation, which they argued cannot come soon enough. The data show the number of Indiana households having difficulty purchasing enough food rose from 9.4% in May 2020, to 13.4% last December.
Frazier sees the irony in being able to purchase groceries online, but unable to get them to those in most need. He pointed out there could be easier ways developed for families to join local food hubs, or get fresh foods from farms or stores which would otherwise go to waste.
“I think it can be overwhelming at times to say ‘Boy, how do we solve this?’ ” Frazier explained. “I think it’s being really intentional about discretely identifying the problem to be solved and then rallying innovators, rallying entrepreneurs, rallying government and private industry — the entire ecosystem — to solve some of the problems.”
The study coincides with the launch of AgriNovus Indiana’s 2023 HungerTech Innovation Challenge. It tasks innovators with creating and implementing a tech-enabled business solution to connect food-insecure populations to for-profit and nonprofit food networks.