Since 2014, Whole Cities Foundation has partnered with more than 190 nonprofits across 100 cities in the United States to improve access to healthy food and nutrition education, investing more than $2 million in local communities — places like Newark, New Jersey.

Why Newark? Because there is substantial momentum behind urban farming and a growing network of local gardeners and community-led organizations making pathways to create long-term healthy food access solutions from the ground up.

Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant

Guided by our Community First Principles, Whole Cities Foundation’s first step is always to listen to communities to discover the unique approaches they have for addressing fresh food access. Our partners are championing innovative ways to grow community health; we exist to support these organizations and this type of work.

“Since day one, Whole Cities Foundation’s support in Newark has been shaped by input from local farmers, gardeners, politicians and other community leaders entrenched in grassroots efforts in their community,” said Dianna Purcell, senior grant program manager at Whole Cities Foundation. “By partnering with these experts, we have gained insight on how to amplify their efforts and best support the growth of the local food system.”

After learning about Newark’s needs and strengths, we developed the Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant tailored to the community. The grant launched in 2017 to support growing healthy food options across all five wards.

Each winter, local groups with food access projects are invited to apply for up to $15,000. Then Whole Cities Foundation reviews applications alongside the Newark Community Advisory Council, a rotating panel of eight Newark leaders. (In 2019, the council’s community members had lived and/or worked in Newark for an average of 27 years.) Grantees are determined by the sustainability of their projects and their alignment with the foundation’s mission.

“What makes the Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant unique is its flexibility. The grant was created to meet the needs of the diverse Newark organizations it serves,” explains Dianna.

For more than three years, Whole Cities Foundation has partnered with 24 organizations across all five wards, investing $450,000 in the Newark community. Grant partners have included community gardens, urban farms, healthy cooking classes, agriculture skills development programs and more. In 2019, the average grant size was $14,000.

Whole Cities Foundation’s support does not end with the Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant. We also provide financial support for various opportunities shaped by the goals and requests of our grant partners. For example, we recently launched a “gardening hours” pilot program with two local urban agriculture experts, Tobias Fox, founder of Newark Science and Sustainability and convener of the Newark Community Food System, and Emilio Panasci, co-founder of the Urban Agriculture Cooperative. This well-received pilot offers current grant partners the opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance for overcoming specific challenges and reaching goals.

2020 Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant is Open & More Support to Come

With the support of Whole Foods Market, Whole Cities Foundation is thrilled to announce that we are strengthening our commitment to Newark with another three years of investments. This support includes the continuation of the Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant, as well as responsive support which will be shaped by the needs our grant partners.

Organizations with projects that help broaden access to fresh, healthy food in one or more of Newark’s five wards are invited to apply for the Whole Cities Foundation Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant from January 15 to February 20, 2020.

Ten grants will be offered funding between $5,000 and $15,000 to each selected organization for a total of $150,000.

We are looking to strengthen the local food system, support community self-sufficiency and self-determination and ultimately, help create a healthy, vibrant Newark. If you are too, we encourage you to check out our Fresh, Healthy Food Access Grant.

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