Co-op gift funds food-based cancer research

Dec. 14, 2020 

COLUMBUS, Ohio—A $190,000 gift to the Cooperatives for the Cure Cancer Fund boosts food-based cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), and Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The fund was created with the hope of finding a common goal for agricultural cooperatives to work together on bettering their communities through the support of cancer research. 

This year’s donation brings the total donated since 2009, when the effort began, to $1.5 million. 

Supporting the fund are two campaigns, Growing the Cure and Fueling the Cure, toward which the cooperatives donate money from soybean and corn seed sales and from propane deliveries. The organizations involved in the effort are Centerra Co-op, Heritage Cooperative, Premier Energy, and Sunrise Cooperative. 

“Our farmer-owners are committed to the community and want to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Ray Etgen, director of propane operations at Heritage Cooperative. “The co-ops recognize there is a need and want to participate to make a difference. They’re very excited to work with CFAES and the James and are excited to see where it will take us in the future.”  

The funds are earmarked for food-related cancer research and are split between OSUCCC – James and Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship (CAFFRE), which is a part of CFAES. 

Projects supported by the fund include studying how nutrient-rich lean beef can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern for overweight cancer survivors to improve their body weight; the impact of vitamin D on colon cancer; and the impact of diet on oral cancer. 

Having the partnership with the farmer co-ops is key, said Yael Vodovotz, CFAES professor and CAFFRE director. 

“A focus of the center is, ‘from crops to the clinic to the consumer,’ so having farmers involved is an important part of the equation,” she said. “This work involves many different people and disciplines who all play an important role in understanding functional food research and in developing a prevention or cure for some of these diseases.” 

For more information on CAFFRE, see


Tracy Turner