The Dohmen Company Foundation
continues its fight against diet-related disease with the launch of a $60 million impact investment fund, the Milwaukee-based organization announced Friday during a live-streamed event at the White House.
The fund will infuse capital into for-profit social enterprises that are working to improve health outcomes through food-related solutions. Dohmen is planning to invest in five to 10 food-focused businesses - both B2B and B2C - that are looking to scale their work and drive increased impact, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of more than five million consumers over the next five to 10 years, according to a news release.
The impact investment fund builds upon an ongoing $75 million commitment to reducing the morbidity of diet-related disease. Dohmen announced
that pledge in September during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition & Health
, when the Biden administration rolled out a national strategy to end hunger, improve healthy eating and physical activity, and reduce diet-related disease by 2030.
"Our nation is sick. The standard American diet and its underlying dependency on processed food is largely to blame," Dohmen president and chief executive officer Rachel Roller said in a statement.
"The DCF Impact Investment Fund seeks to advance a healthier food system through strategic investments in solutions that align with our mission to reverse and prevent diet-related disease."
Roller participated in a panel discussion during Friday's White House event, where she urged others to prioritize investments in the healthy food and nutrition ecosystem.
"More investment is needed to promote the healthy food industry and make unprocessed, whole foods readily and equitably available. We encourage other foundations, socially conscious businesses, and investors to join us in advancing a healthy eating movement by pursuing a similar self-sustaining investment model with a capital and social return," said Roller.
The fund will prioritize social return on investment over monetary gains on its invested capital. Financial profits achieved through the fund's investments will fuel the foundation's charitable giving activities and public awareness strategies.
In 2019, Dohmen converted from a six-generation family-owned business into a foundation-owned philanthropic enterprise
. Under that structure, the company’s profits are donated to the foundation for charitable purposes. Central to Dohmen’s current strategy is the belief that food is a key preventative medical intervention.
"We believe that convenient access to healthy food for all Americans is the answer to our nation's greatest public health threat," said board chair Cynthia Dohmen LaConte. "
Food, the very thing that's making us sick, can become our prescription to health. Our intention is to make access to healthy, whole food as ubiquitous as today's unhealthy fast food."
While Dohmen is looking to make a nationwide impact through its newly launched $60 million fund, the focus of its earlier $75 million pledge targets Wisconsin and the Milwaukee community more specifically.
With $15 million of that $75 planned investment, the foundation launched Food For Health
, a Milwaukee-based public charity that provides a home-delivered medically tailored meal program for economically disadvantaged populations in Wisconsin, and The Food Benefit Co.
, a Milwaukee-based social enterprise that contracts with companies to provide employees with nutrition coaching, biometric screening and fresh food delivery.
"Since launching those two programs, we have seen phenomenal results, clinical results in preventing and reversing diet-related disease," said Roller.
Dohmen provided seed money for Food For Health, but the organization will need to raise funds from other partners and individuals to reach its goal of improving the health of 50,000 people in the span of five years. Profits from the Food Benefit Co. will go toward the nonprofit's mission, according to a company spokesperson.
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