COVID-19: A Call to Entrepreneurs

April 20, 2020


The historic disruption of COVID-19 is stress testing systems and individuals on a daily basis. For our food systems, the pandemic has exposed the gross inequity of access to affordable, nutritious food, with severe impacts on COVID-19 mortality rates.

Poor diets that have exacerbated rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet-related chronic diseases are now directly contributing to higher COVID-19 mortality rates among economically disadvantaged populations. At the same time, we are seeing front-line, low-wage workers in our food system bearing an oversized amount of disease risk with minimal protections.

COVID-19 has also impacted food access. Across every income and age range, people are consuming far fewer fruits and vegetables than they need for the healthiest, strongest bodies and minds. During this time of crisis, many are reverting from healthier dietary patterns to old habits of consuming highly processed comfort foods.

Something must be done.

A Call to Action

That is why the Partnership for a Healthier America has teamed up with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center to host a competition for entrepreneurs looking to address food insecurity by bringing healthy, affordable dinner options to the marketplace for families struggling to get food on the table during these uncertain times.

Through the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center’s Summer 2020 Milestone Makers COVID-19 Solutions program, Nasdaq and PHA will work with entrepreneurs on an idea or product that addresses food insecurity now and beyond COVID-19.

In this time of hardship and economic uncertainty, we believe the need for healthy, affordable, ready-to-eat meals has never been greater for families, especially those living on restricted budgets and with limited access to full-service grocery stores. And through our strong relationship with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), we believe convenience stores would be a viable channel for innovative ready-to-eat meals that are both healthy and affordable. Consumers are cooking at home now more than ever, and consumer survey data show that 85% of weekly convenience store shoppers said they would purchase a dinner meal kit from a convenience store.

Because we believe such innovation would be good for consumer health and good for business, PHA is partnering with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center to encourage entrepreneurs to participate in the Milestone Makers program to address this need.

Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center’s Milestone Makers program is a part-time 12-week program that runs from May 19 to August 3, 2020. Selected entrepreneurs receive business mentoring, personal coaching, training, and resources curated to each founder, plus prominent publicity including Nasdaq Market Site Tower Time – all at no charge to entrepreneurs.

PHA is also offering entrepreneurs an expanded mentor program which includes PHA’s registered dietitian for consultation on product nutritionals and connections to senior professionals in the convenience store channel.

We believe this is a unique opportunity to fill a need in the marketplace and assist families that are struggling to put dinner on the table during this pandemic and beyond.

Interested entrepreneurs can find additional program details here and apply here by May 7, 2020.