UNFI announced the UNFI Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to improve food systems in more than 40 communities across the United States and Canada. Food access is a key pillar of UNFI’s Better for All initiative and, for the third consecutive year, the UNFI Foundation has committed over $1 million to non-profit organizations to help create equitable food access in vulnerable communities.
The UNFI Foundation’s grant funding is awarded to non-profit organizations that align with the Foundation’s three primary focus areas: increasing the supply of organic food, improving access to healthy food for vulnerable populations and advancing childhood nutrition education. After a competitive application process, organizations’ requests are reviewed by regional teams of UNFI associates who put forth the impressive collection of organizations to be recognized.
“At UNFI, we know our work isn’t done once a product leaves our distribution center. That’s why we are thrilled to support this year’s grantees, which are pursuing a wide range of innovative and impactful ideas to support food equity and access in their local communities across more than 20 U.S. states and into Canada,” said Alisha Real, Executive Director of the UNFI Foundation. “We know that food access is one area where UNFI can affect the greatest change and we are proud to support organizations that share our goal of providing affordable and nutritious food to all.”
Food Equity Project Grant
The $1 million in grant funding is a testament to UNFI’s long-term commitment to improving food access. Earlier this year, the UNFI Foundation established the Food Equity Project Grant which awards $100,000 to accelerate the efforts of a Rhode Island-based organization focused on creating equitable access to healthy food. Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) was selected as the recipient of the Food Equity Project Grant for the organization’s advanced work increasing food access in Providence and surrounding communities. Along with monetary support, UNFI will provide SCLT with its guidance and expertise, assisting in areas such as logistics and operations to efficiently further SCLT’s mission to provide access to land, education, and other resources. This allows people in Rhode Island to grow food in environmentally sustainable ways and create community food systems where locally produced, affordable and healthy food is available to all.
Aligning with the major pillars of the UNFI Foundation, SCLT serves people in economically challenged urban neighborhoods where access to fresh produce is scarce. Hand-in-hand with members of the community, SCLT works to increase access to fresh food by promoting education about diet and exercise, building community gardens or farms, and providing low-cost agricultural resources and support to gardeners. SCLT also operates three production farms in Providence, RI that practice and demonstrate bio-intensive, small-scale agricultural production.
“When people own their own farms, distribution systems and retail spaces, they make sure their communities get fed. This grant from the UNFI Foundation promotes local ownership of the food system in Rhode Island communities where fresh, healthy, and affordable food is hard to find. The insight and thoughtfulness of UNFI’s approach – to support existing organizations and individuals – is an example for all of us,” said Margaret DeVos, Executive Director of Southside Community Land Trust.
“As a Providence-based organization, we have seen firsthand the tremendous impact that Southside Community Land Trust has made in Rhode Island,” said Real. “Access to healthy food should be a fundamental right and UNFI is proud to support SCLT’s work to build an equitable and sustainable food system in Rhode Island.”
2022 UNFI Foundation Grant Recipients
In 2021 alone, non-profit organizations supported by the UNFI Foundation created over 6,000 acres of organic farmland and fostered 2,000 new organic farmers, delivered $7 million worth of fresh food to at-risk community members, created 31 school gardens, and taught more than 200,000 kids at 767 schools about healthy eating.
Applications for UNFI Foundation grants next open in March 2023. To learn more, visit https://www.unfifoundation.org/