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Company : UNFI
Program category : Social Impact


UNFI’s Responsible Sourcing Program aims to transform our procurement towards more equitable and sustainable products while fostering an ecosystem where responsible sourcing is more feasible. This cross-departmental initiative is driven by our philanthropy, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion teams. The program encompasses several key initiatives:
1. Impact Investing Strategy: Our Foundation directs investments into the regenerative agriculture sector, supporting farmers who adopt practices that regenerate the earth and communities.
2. NMSDC Acres Program: This initiative supports Black farmers and suppliers through technical assistance, market access, and mentorship from UNFI experts.
3. Grant Making: Our Foundation prioritizes funding for food equity (focusing on inclusive food and agriculture business development) and local/sustainable food systems (focused on climate-smart agriculture, local procurement, farm-to-institution/farm-to-school, and farm-to-food relief programs).


Impact Investing:
• In 2023, we invested $100,000 into MadCapital’s regenerative agriculture fund, with a goal of transitioning over 25,000 acres of farmland to regenerative or organic practices.

NMSDC Acres Program:
• In 2023, we invested $80,000 into the NMSDC Acres Program. Grant Making
• In 2023, the UNFI Foundation awarded $1,030,000 in grants to non-profit organizations working towards more sustainable and equitable food systems.
• Over 40 UNFI associates were involved with the recruitment and selection of these grantees

Community Participation:
• Between August 2023-June 2024, UNFI associates volunteered over 17,000 hours with community-based organizations, supporting impactful programs focused on food security and sustainable agriculture


1. Impact Investing Strategy: Support regenerative agriculture by making capital more affordable for farmers and transitioning farmland to regenerative practices. Support the transition of a minimum of 25,000 acres of farmland to regenerative or organic practice.

2. NMSDC Acres Program: Enhance the success of Black farmers and suppliers through technical assistance, market access, and mentorship. Specific goals include:
- Serve a minimum of 30 Black Farmers
- 90%+ of participating farmers will become NMSDC Certified
- 80% of participants will access capital through capital connections
- 90% of participants secure at least one new contract for business
- Program participants will be introduced to UNFI stakeholders to assess opportunities for procurement
- UNFI mentors dedicate over 40 hours collectively through mentorship of farmers

3. Grant Making: Deploy $1.6M in grants each year to organizations rerouting food waste, supporting diverse food entrepreneurs/agrepreneurs, supporting climate smart agriculture, and growing local food economies.


Our program includes robust monitoring and evaluation protocols, with regular check-ins with our partners and grantees. We collect impact data via annual surveys and investor reports.
Our collective impact is as follows:
• In 2023, we invested $100,000 into MadCapital’s regenerative agriculture fund. To date, 8 loans have been deployed to farmers transitioning to organic practices, covering over 5,000 acres in active transition.
• Our support of the ACRES program in 2023 enabled 38 Black producers to secure 19 new contracts, over $8M in capital, and $65,000 in grants. Additionally, our UNFI team members contributed over 100 hours of mentorship and technical assistance to participating farmers and ACRES program staff.
• In 2023, our grant-making efforts supported over 1,700 acres of organic farmland and facilitated the distribution of more than $6,607,988 worth of fresh, healthy food to at-risk community members.

A comprehensive report on our impact and how UNFI is building a better food system for our people, communities, and the world can be found at https://betterforall.unfi.com/ 


By integrating philanthropy, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion efforts, we are fostering an ecosystem where responsible sourcing is not only feasible but becomes a standard practice. Through initiatives like our Impact Investing Strategy and the NMSDC Acres Program, we are actively supporting regenerative agriculture and empowering diverse farmers and suppliers. These efforts underscore our dedication to creating a food system that is better for all."

- Matt Echols, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer

Support Statement:

UNFI’s commitment to social impact, exemplified through its support of NMSDC’s program, Acres:
Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture, aligns with the core values of the FMI Community Uplift Award. Our program focuses on access to land, capital, and wealth-building opportunities.

We measure impact through three key indicators:
1. The number of farmers entering the wholesale market.
2. The number of farmers obtaining Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.
3. The financial benefit for farmers in terms of revenue increases upon entering the wholesale market.

These metrics collectively demonstrate the program’s effectiveness in enhancing market access, achieving certification, and improving financial gains for participating farmers. UNFI’s dedication to responsible sourcing, supplier diversity, and overall social responsibility makes it a deserving candidate for the FMI Community Uplift Award. Through these efforts, UNFI advances equity and inclusion in agriculture while fostering sustainable growth for Black farmers.

- Amber Smith, NMSDC Acres Program Lea