World Central Kitchen (WCK) is dedicated to reducing food insecurity in Puerto Rico and building resiliency in the island’s food ecosystem by supporting smallholder farmers and early stage food-related enterprises through Plow to Plate, a program launched in September 2018 in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. After the first grant year, WCK aimed to expand Plow to Plate through 2021, now WCK commits to extend the program through 2023 in order to help more than 200 farms and food enterprises increase the net volume of produce grown, farm revenue generated, jobs created, and acres farmed, ultimately growing their participation in, and support of, the local food economy.
Plow to Plate incorporates three programmatic pillars. The first pillar is a grant program that offers farmers and small enterprises funding to underwrite substantive investments in critical infrastructure such as greenhouses, tractors, irrigation systems, and walk-in coolers. Plow to Plate operates on a semi-annual funding basis and a three, six, and twelve-month reporting cycle. First time grantees may apply for a minimum of $5K up to $20K. Grantees who successfully deploy and report in their first year are eligible to apply for second time grants up to $40K to continue the development of their farming and food related enterprises.
The second pillar offers grantees access to agricultural and business skills workshops led by experts in disciplines such as apiculture, hydroponics, entrepreneurship, finance, and sales. Most workshops will take place at our training center hubs located on partner campuses around the island. WCK aims to conduct between 20 to 30 workshops per year and directly impact 338 individuals.
Finally, the third pillar connects grantees with tourists who wish to help Puerto Rico. Inspired by Chef José, every day WCK receives requests from tourists seeking opportunities to volunteer. WCK matches visitors with farms for a day or more of work and encourages them to patronize businesses throughout the island.
Over the course of this commitment, WCK aims to invest an additional $4MM. The incremental funding will allow for a more than doubling of both the number of grants to approximately 213, valued at $3.19MM.
January – June 2019 (months one – six):
Round two applications open months three thru five.
Round two grants approved month six.
Round one grantees file three & six-month reports.
7 training events for round one grantees.
400 agro-tourism volunteers connected to grantees.
July – December 2019 (months seven – 12):
Round three applications open months nine thru 11.
Round three grants approved month 12.
Round one grantees file 12-month reports, notified if eligible to apply for second grant.
Round two grantees file three & six month reports.
7 training events for rounds one and two grantees.
400 agro-tourism volunteers connected to grantees.
WCK reports on overall year one metrics and outcomes, makes any needed adjustments.
January – June 2020 (months 13 – 18):
Repeat months one thru six with round four applications and round two & three grantees.
July – December 2020 (months 19 - 24):
Repeat months seven thru 12 with round five applications and round three & four grantees.
January 2021 – December 2022 (months 25 – 48)
Repeat steps above.
January 2023 – December 2023 (months 49 – 60)
No new rounds of funding.
Final reports for round eight & nine grantees.
12 training events for round eight & nine grantees.
800 agro-tourism volunteers connected to grantees.
WCK reports on year five and overall program metrics and outcomes.
Award 61 grants to 9 repeat grantees and 52 new, benefitting 61 farms/enterprises.
$915K in grants, $190K for training events, M&E and operations (other), $1.105MM total.
232 training event attendees (trainees), some individuals attending more than one.
Award 60 grants to 18 repeat grantees and 42 new, benefitting 62 farms/enterprises.
$900K in grants, $210K in other, $1.11MM total.
Award 50 grants to 30 repeat grantees and 20 new, benefitting 50 farms/enterprises.
$750K in grants, $145K for other, $895K total.
Award 42 grants to 22 repeat grantees and 20 new, benefitting 50 farms/enterprises.
$630K in grants, $140K in other, $770K total.
No new grants.
$120K in other
Award 213 grants.
$3.195MM in grants, $805K in training events, M&E and operations, $4MM total in local economy.
On September 20th 2017, a Category 4 hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria was the worst hurricane recorded to date in Puerto Rico. In the months following Maria’s landfall, chef José Andrés and the Chef Relief Team of World Central Kitchen (WCK) served 4.3 million meals to victims of this disaster. The chefs cooked with locally sourced ingredients, including fruits and vegetables purchased from smallholder farms throughout the island. In connecting with these suppliers directly, WCK gained a deep understanding of the challenges faced by this community in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Maria wreaked havoc on crops and overnight farmer livelihoods were wiped out. In addition, every farm lost at least some, if not all of its productive infrastructure such as greenhouses, tools and equipment, paddocks and fencing, fruit trees which take years to mature to productivity, and animals such as cattle, chickens, and rabbits. Already living at subsistence income levels and encountering a complete lack of emergency assistance, many smallholder farmers were unable to begin the process of rebuilding their farms. This reality only aggravated the high degree of food insecurity that existed on the island even prior to the hurricane, when as much as 85% of food was imported. Post Maria, this figure jumped to 97% and more than a year later, likely still hovers in the 90% range.
These figures are especially troubling because the island is in fact very well suited to agriculture. Indeed, Puerto Rico used to produce far more of its own food, but a push in the late 1940’s towards industrialization led to the abandonment of agriculture by many farming families. However, in the last decade, a growing interest in “buying local” and organic foods, combined with the emergency of new eco-agricultural farmers, have laid the foundation for substantive opportunities to redress this situation and build resiliency in the food economy against future disasters.
World Central Kitchen seeks partners who can bring financial resources to the table or in-kind goods and services of the following nature: agricultural training, small business/entrepreneurial skills training, farming equipment or machinery, commercial kitchen/food prep equipment, and shipping containers.
World Central Kitchen offers its partners direct access to smallholder farmers, farming communities, and small food related enterprises for distribution of equipment, materials, and information; access to both quantitative and qualitative data from these individuals and communities regarding the state of smallholder agriculture on the island, market opportunities, and/or barriers to market; opportunities for volunteer/giving activities by partner employees either individually or collectively; and direct linkages with the broader World Central Kitchen network of emergency relief providers.