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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: 2R42MD014075-02
Agency Tracking Number: R42MD014075
Amount: $774,831.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 102
Solicitation Number: MD21-005
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-09-18
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-05-31
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: (919) 966-6080
Research Institution
1111 Spring Garden Street Suite 2601, Room 2702, MHRA Building
GREENSBORO, NC 27412-5013
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Abstract -
Low-income and ethnic minority status as well as rural residence are strong predictors of poor health.
Contributors to high chronic disease rates include food insecurity (lack of access to affordable, nutritious food)
and lack of economic opportunity. Rural poverty in the Southeast is exacerbated by historical discrimination
against Black farmers, and ongoing structural racism. At the intersection of diet and wellbeing, the blue-collar
workforce is particularly vulnerable to the conditions and impacts of poor nutrition on health and productivity, as
these typically low-wage workers face heightened challenges surrounding accessibility (affordability and
convenience) of healthy food, yet rely on good health to support often physically demanding labor. Few
approaches to mitigating health disparities have addressed both healthy food access and economic
opportunity. Equiti Foods developed Good Bowls as healthy, affordable, good-tasting frozen meals that
are convenient, locally-produced, and culturally-conscious. Our mission is to decrease health
disparities by increasing the availability and consumption of nutritious food in high-need communities
while providing economic opportunities for local farms and small businesses. We propose rigorously
testing Good Bowls’ health impact and potential health care costs savings in rural blue-collar worksites. Our
solution leverages the team’s nutrition expertise to create culturally appealing meals by adapting the evidence-
based Mediterranean diet to southeastern seasonal availability and taste preferences (“Med-South”). We
partner with local farms and businesses to produce the bowls, making use of normally wasted seasonal excess
or “cosmetically challenged” produce to curb costs and expand markets for farmers. To create a sustainable
business model, Good Bowls are sold using a cost-offset subsidy approach, allowing for needs-based pricing.
In our worksite RCT, subsidized Good Bowls will be paired with smart phone digital infrastructure enabling
Bluetooth nudges at the worksite and educational programing for home and family. The Specific Aims of this
Phase II project are: 1) Establish Employee Wellness Committees to refine implementation strategies and
facilitate engagement with blue-collar workers and families; 2) Test the impact of subsidized Good Bowls
availability and promotion alone (Good Bowls) relative to Good Bowls + the phone App nudge and home-
based education program (Nudge/Education) using a delayed intervention randomized controlled trial; and 3)
Further develop and test our cost-offset model using both direct-to-consumer and retail sales to assess the
volume and pricing of high end sales needed to support the social mission. We will also assess health care-
related cost savings for worksites and economic benefits to partner businesses (farms, caterers, non-profits)
involved with Good Bowls production. Working in partnership with rural blue-collar worksites and with local
farms and businesses, Equiti Foods seeks to reduce health disparities by improving the dietary intake of those
at greatest risk for chronic disease while creating economic opportunity in rural communities.Narrative -
Reducing food insecurity and increasing economic opportunity are key to combatting health disparities in low-
income communities. Recognizing this, Equiti Foods created Good Bowls, healthy frozen meals that are made
affordable through a cost-offset business model allowing for needs-based pricing. Working in partnership with
rural blue-collar worksites and with local farms and businesses, Equiti Foods seeks to improve the dietary intake
of those at greatest risk for chronic disease while creating economic opportunity for struggling businesses.

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

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