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Good Bowls: Empowering Communities to Achieve Good Food Access and Health Equity

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41MD014075-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41MD014075
Amount: $384,249.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 102
Solicitation Number: PA18-591
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-08-20
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-07-31
Small Business Information
Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2807
United States
DUNS: 081303258
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 (919) 966-6082
Business Contact
Phone: (970) 829-2990
Research Institution
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Emerging data indicate that those with pre-existing health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart
disease, are at significantly increased risk of contracting COVID-19, as are low income and persons of color.
Research also suggests that food insecurity (lack of access to affordable, nutritionally valuable food) and poor
dietary intake are likely contributors to health disparities in these populations. Unemployment, poverty, ethnic
minority status, and rural residence are also strong predictors of poor health. The need to provide accessible
and affordable healthy food options to support improved immune system function to higher-risk populations has
therefore become increasingly urgent as the pandemic unfolds. Nutritional status is believed to play a key role
in the prevention, treatment, and management of COVID-19, with a balanced diet and certain nutrients serving
to strengthen the immune system. Yet, even as the need for nutritious food options has become more urgent,
the pandemic has led to enormous food industry job loss, closing of food-related businesses, loss of restaurant
and institutional markets for small to mid-sized farmers, and excess produce being wasted or donated to food
banks /pantries where the capacity to store and distribute this volume of perishable food is limited. These effects
have dramatically amplified food insecurity,1 particularly in minority and low income populations.
Equiti Foods LLC is advancing Good Bowls, a production and distribution platform to increase availability of
healthy, affordable, locally-produced, good-tasting frozen meals to low income and minority populations in small
towns and rural communities, while also providing economic opportunities for small businesses in rural
communities. The meals are based on the Mediterranean diet adapted for taste preferences and seasonal
availability of food in the southeastern US (“Med-South Diet”). Equiti Foods has tested the Med-South diet in
multiple studies and found beneficial health impacts in low income populations as well as broad acceptability
regarding taste. This Phase I administrative supplement will focus on tailoring the platform for application in
current COVID-19 impacted regional economies and business environments. The goal is to assist in minimizing
the health, financial and social impacts of the pandemic in health disparity populations. Specific aims include: 1)
work with three identified restaurants/caterers in rural economically distressed communities (including one Black-
owned and one Latinx-owned) to test the Good Bowls model; 2) assess early stage nutrition impact on customers
adversely affected by COVID-19 in terms of food security, diet quality and healthy food knowledge/behaviors; 3)
incorporate COVID-19-related health messaging into the Good Bowls packaging tailored to local communities.
If successful, this project will establish feasibility of a Good Bowls model that will: 1) empower small scale food
producers, invigorating local economies; 2) prevent food waste resulting from COVID-disrupted food distribution
chains; 3) provide at-risk populations with nutritious food to assist in prevention and management of COVID-19.Narrative
Poverty, ethnic minority status, and rural residence are associated with poor health and food insecurity (lack of
access to affordable, nutritionally valuable food), which in turn significantly increase risk of contracting COVID-
19. This project will advance a production and distribution platform for healthy, affordable, good-tasting frozen
meals, designed to increase availability of healthy food options to low income and minority populations in small
towns and rural communities, while also providing economic opportunities for farmers and small businesses in
rural communities. The goal is to improve reduce COVID-19-related health risks while providing much needed
job opportunities.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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