Operation Food Search is now growing through hydroponics – St. Louis Call Newspapers
Operation Food Search, a nonprofit famine relief organization, has received two Flex Farms, which are fully self-contained hydroponic growing systems that allow OFS to grow fresh, affordable produce. The indoor vertical farms are $ 5,000 each and were donated to nonprofits through the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Missouri and Fork Farms, an agricultural technology social company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. OFS is the first St. Louis organization to receive Flex Farms, which are currently located in 26 states and Canada.
Flex Farms produce 25 pounds of product per month based on a 21 to 28 day harvest cycle. Harvesting everything from nutritious leafy vegetables to herbs requires at least two hours of maintenance per month. The energy efficient Flex Farms use a standard electrical outlet, take up less than 10 square feet, and do not use pesticides and herbicides. Each farm can supply up to 1,900 families a year with a harvest of almost 3,400 plants.
Above is an example of the Flex Farm used for Operation Food Search.
“Access to fresh food is critical to leading a healthy lifestyle and fighting chronic diseases. That’s why we invented Flex Farm to break down the barriers to healthy food and empower people, organizations and communities to unleash the power of fresh food production, ”said Alex Tyink, President of Fork Farms, in a press release. “As part of our mission, we seek to build strategic partnerships with organizations that share our values and work to create happier, healthier communities. We’re excited to have the opportunity to name the partners of Operation Food Search and the United Healthcare Community Plan of Missouri in Transition. “
“We know that non-medical factors, including access to nutritious, affordable food, safe housing and transportation, can have a tremendous impact on a person’s health,” said Jamie Bruce, CEO of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Missouri, in the press release . “We are proud to support an innovation like Flex Farms that makes it easier for our communities to access healthy food and lead healthier lives.”
“These donated flex farms are extremely practical and cost-effective solutions that we can use to grow fresh produce for those who need it most,” said Kristen Wild, executive director of Operation Food Search. “We appreciate the generosity and support of the Missouri UnitedHealthcare Community Plan and Fork Farms for their commitment to meeting our region’s long-term demand for nutritious foods.” Wild added, “We are both honored and excited to be the first in St. Louis to experience the benefits of Fork Farms’ unique systems.”
Operation Food Search was founded in 1981 and is a famine relief organization located at 1644 Lotsie Blvd. in St. Louis, offering free groceries, nutrition education, and innovative programs proven to reduce food insecurity. Last year, Operation Food Search was one of the organizations that received coronavirus government aid from St. Louis County to help address the increased food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a strategic focus on ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families and improves access to healthy and affordable food. The agency provides food and services to nearly 200,000 people a month – one third of whom are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 30 counties in Missouri and Illinois. For more information, call 314-726-5355 or call Operation Food Search.