USDA awards Snacktivist and Zego $3M to Expand Organic and Regenerative Gluten Free Grains!

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Coeur d'Alene, ID

March 22, 2024

Last Week the USDA awarded an Organic Market Development Grant to ZEGO, supporting its new joint business venture with Snacktivist and Montana Gluten Free to expand organic value-added grain processing and consumer access for people with medically-tailored diets.

The Organic Market Development Grant (OMDG) program supports the development of new and expanded organic markets to help increase the consumption of domestic organic crops. ZEGO received a $3M grant to expand and improve the organic, gluten-free, high protein grain supply chain. This includes the promotion of purity protocol high protein oats and proso millet, processed at the Montana Gluten Free (MGF) facility and grown in Montana and surrounding states.

 By opening new sales channels, developing new products, and providing co-packing for values-aligned brands, this grant will help the organic supply chain better serve the over 85 million people in the US with medically tailored diets due to allergies, gluten intolerance, or diabetes—who have very limited access to organic products–and many millions more seeking to lower toxin exposure.

As part of the project, ZEGO is partnering with the tech company Viiision to expand its Purity Verification system to all ingredients and co-packing done at the MGF facility. All food handled within the facility will be enabled with traceability to 3rd party lab reports for gluten and toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, and glyphosate levels.

“The companies in our collaboration will provide the demand pull for the value-added grains grown by regional farmers. Our farmers can increase their income four-fold compared to conventional farming, all the while building their soil health and breaking disease cycles by expanding their rotation crop diversity.

Even more, special diet consumers will have access to more healthy organic products that meet their medical needs, and everyone’s confidence in organic food will grow with our expanded Purity Verification and traceability. That’s just a lot of wins, and we can’t wait to get started.”

-Colleen Kavanagh, co-founder of CIVC and founder of ZEGO

According to Kavanagh, their OMDG-funded project is part of their novel business model  she and Joni Kindwall-Moore of Snacktivist developed called a Collaborative Integrated Value Chain (CIVC) that weaves together solutions for all the layers of the supply chain.

“We are so appreciative that the USDA has taken this assertive action to support critical organic infrastructure that not only supports farmers and consumers but also contributes to our national food system security,” said Kindwall-Moore.

 Joni Kindwall-Moore, Co-founder of CIVC and founder of Snacktivist

CIVC will also build a value chain for “clean conventional,” regeneratively grown, purity-tested ingredients, funded in part through strategic, values-aligned DAF donations and investments.

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