During the height of COVID-19, Acumium CEO, Dan Costello, partnered with several local businesses to create Forward 4 Families, a non-profit community food stream architect that combines local food sources and mobilizes businesses so every family can count on a safe, reliable food supply without leaving home.
“Our focus is on safely getting food to families while reducing the viral spread and supporting our local economy,” said Dan Costello, Director, and President of F4F. “I knew when we started this would not be easy and could very well be one of the most challenging problems we’ve ever tackled.”
F4F connects suppliers and producers of local food with families in need in a safe, secure, and reliable way. It also supports producers by helping all the challenges of quickly and safely getting to market. F4F’s goal is to make safe, affordable food deliveries available to all Madison-based families, regardless of socioeconomic status.
In addition to providing safe, reliable food options for families, F4F is focused on supporting the local economy during the pandemic. What started as an idea to help local restaurants stay open has expanded to a vision of helping all local food providers and their distribution partners: farmers, food producers, grocery stores, and other food sources.
Since the beginning, we have collaborated with many organizations involved in the local food supply chain disruption. Michelle Orge, President/CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Southern Wisconsin, has been an active and early supporter of our efforts:
“This new 'final mile' service model that Forward 4 Families (F4F) has developed has great potential to help us meet the needs of thousands of people who don’t currently access opportunities for food support because of transportation, health barriers, work, or school hours.
The no-contact way F4F delivers food will reduce the need for vulnerable populations to go out in public, help maintain adherence to social distancing guidelines, and ultimately make our community safer.”
Acumium is not the only local business behind F4F, FarWell has also played a crucial role in getting F4F launched. Steve McQuin, F4F Director and Vice President is Co-Founder, President, and Chief Innovation Officer at FarWell, an advisory firm focusing on helping organizations navigate complex change. Fellow FarWell team member Zach Henderson, F4F Director and Treasurer, is also a Senior Advisor at FarWell and plays an active role in solving some of the complexities with launching such a large-scale operation in such a short amount of time. Both companies are strong supporters of community causes, with team members active in a variety of community and non-profit efforts.
“The need is urgent, and the complexity will grow. Building the system now will help us learn, adapt, and scale.” said Henderson.
F4F has been quickly adding partners and participants in the system, launching initial deliveries only weeks after their first planning meeting. Current partners include Dane County, Second Harvest Food Bank, River Food Pantry, Food Fight Restaurant Group, World of Beer of Middleton, Fair Share CSA Coalition, Harmony Valley Farm, Green Cab, Madison Taxi, Goodman Community Center and Allied Food Pantry.
Although F4F was built for the immediate need, the F4F team believes it will endure well beyond the current crisis. “Economic disruptions create a misalignment of resources and shine a light on the gaps in the national, regional and local supply chains,” said McQuin. “There is a great opportunity to rally our community around a food system that can withstand these shocks, while also supporting our local economy.”
F4F deliveries, in partnership with River Food Pantry, began in mid-April. A website where consumers can purchase restaurant meals, boxes of essential food staples, and farm-to-table food offerings will be launched soon.
Want to get involved with F4F? Contact us today to learn more about how you can help.