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Success Stories

Hope & Main Nourishes Neighbors in Warren, RI

Kevin Lambert
Local Foods
People cooking in the kitchen

Like most people in the service industry, Lisa Raiola of the Hope & Main (HM) food incubator in Warren, Rhode Island, had to reimagine her operation due to COVID’s devastating impacts. With a 30-year career focused on distributive justice, her first move tackled area food insecurity, turning the historic HM building—once an elementary school—into a community distribution point for redirected school lunch meals. The food amount and quality, however, wasn’t suitable for multiple family meals.

This discouraging reality inspired the solution for HM member producers who lost their markets overnight due to the shutdowns. Without distribution and retail contracts, the start-up businesses had no way to grow or develop new products, much less launch as an independent operation. “We had eaters who needed more and better food, and we had producers who needed more eaters,” Raiola explained. “Lives and livelihoods were on the line. So the question was, ‘How do we close that loop?’”

USDA Rural Development provided the answer with $317,900 through the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant program. Nourishing Our Neighbors provides economic support for HM members to prepare healthy, high-quality meals for residents in need. The investment also helped create Hope’s Harvest, an emergency food-assistance program opening markets for small local producers through gleaning. In Raiola’s words, “This grant was the wind beneath our wings.”

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