Chipotle Mexican Grill is creating a mentorship program for companies who are creating solutions for the next generation of farmers, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based chain announced Wednesday.
Dubbed Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, the accelerator program will offer eight months of personalized support to companies who are trying to find solutions to “top challenge areas faced by young farmers including access to land, finance, and labor,” Chipotle said.
The chain said companies will work with “notable industry leaders” including Chipotle executives; Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea; Ken Meyer, former global vice president of Whole Foods Market; Robyn O'Brien, co-founder of rePlant Capital; and Brian Irving, chief marketing officer of Eventbrite.
"As an organization that prioritizes corporate citizenship, Chipotle acknowledges that no one individual or company can cultivate a better world on their own," Laurie Schalow, chief corporate reputation officer, said in a statement. "American farming is at a crossroads and we must work together to identify solutions to overcome its great challenges."
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farm debt is projected to hit a record $416 billion, up almost 40% since 2012, Chipotle noted.
“Many small and mid-size farmers committed to farming in an ethical and sustainable way need help to have a chance to succeed — both for the sake of the future of real nutritious food and the communities that rely on those farms,” Chipotle said.
In December, Chipotle made a major commitment to support the next generation of farmers through various programs that include signing three-year contracts with farmers under the age of 40. Those farmers must meet the chain’s Food with Integrity standards for supplying beef, pork and dairy’s next generation of farmers.
The company is also raising funds for seed grants to help young farmers. Over the last month, Chipotle said it has donated more than $385,000 to the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Companies can apply HERE for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project through March 11. Companies selected will participate in a five-day, in-person summit held at Chipotle’s headquarters in Newport Beach.
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