Whole Cities Foundation, a nonprofit that works alongside community-based organizations to improve neighbourhood health by broadening access to fresh food and nutrition education, announced today that 60 Community First Grants will be awarded this winter to nonprofit organizations in the U.S., and for the first time, in Canada.
The Community First Grant Program is designed to support Whole Foods Market team members engaged with nonprofits in their areas. Throughout the duration of the grant year, these team members foster relationships with their grant partners through volunteer opportunities and additional support for the organizations’ goals.
Each grant partner will receive $5,000 to support projects that create long-term healthy food access solutions for a total investment of $315,000. Projects from this year’s grant partners include:
- 16 community gardens
- 14 urban farms
- 9 agricultural skills development programs
- 5 mobile markets
- 5 healthy cooking programs
- 6 SNAP and WIC incentive programs
- 2 healthy, affordable restaurants
- 2 farmers markets
- 1 pop-up market
Nonprofits receiving grant funds are located across the U.S., with the first Canadian award going to support the Public Health Association of BC in Vancouver, B.C., which will use the funding for its Can You Dig It program that transforms communities by creating sustainable and inclusive neighborhoods through community gardens.
“At the heart of the Community First Grant Program is a deep respect for the powerful work that already exists in local food systems and a desire to amplify these community-led efforts,” said Nona Evans, executive director of Whole Cities Foundation. “So our partnerships start with our Community First Principles — listening to neighborhood challenges, recognizing what already works well and expanding on the solutions set in place by the community.”
Since launching the Community First Grant Program in 2016, Whole Cities Foundation has awarded 186 grants in 100 cities investing $940,000. To date, more than 140 team members from 70 Whole Foods Market stores and 11 regional offices have participated.
Steffany Villalobos, local forager with the Whole Foods Market Southwest Regional Office, helped secure a grant for Bonton Farms, an urban farm in southeast Dallas where she has been volunteering for more than a year.
“For me, the most exciting part of the Community First Grant is being able to bring to life Whole Foods Market’s core value of caring for our communities and the environment,” said Villalobos. “The grant allows us to take our commitment outside the four walls of the store, connect with our local community, be part of the conversation and support solutions that improve access to fresh, heathy food.”
Whole Foods Market team members in the U.S. and Canada can nominate eligible nonprofit organizations in their cities for a $5,000 grant through the Community First Grant Program each spring. If a team member’s nomination is selected, the community partner will be asked to complete a grant application.
ABOUT WHOLE CITIES FOUNDATION
Whole Cities Foundation works alongside community-based organizations to improve neighborhood health through collaborative partnerships, nutrition education and broader access to fresh, healthy food. Founded by Whole Foods Market in 2014, the independent, nonprofit organization is based in Austin, Texas, and has partnered with more than 190 community organizations in 100 cities across the U.S. to build thriving local food systems and improve health. Through vibrant grant programs, Whole Cities Foundation supports community gardens, urban farms, pop-up produce stands, agriculture skills development, farmers markets, mobile markets, healthy cooking classes and other community-directed initiatives. The foundation’s signature medical nutrition program, Let’s Talk Food, is offered in Detroit, Newark, NJ, and Chicago’s Greater Englewood neighborhood. For more information on the foundation and its programs, visit wholecitiesfoundation.org. For ongoing news and updates, follow Whole Cities Foundation on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Cathy Cochran-Lewis, Communications Director
Whole Cities Foundation