The initiative has awarded over $620,000 in grants in the last two years to advance community-driven solutions to historic food injustice
Philadelphia, April 13, 2020 — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Reinvestment Fund have awarded more than $443,500 to fund several innovative initiatives to create more healthy food options. This is part of an effort to find and fund community-driven solutions to historic food injustice.
The Health Department’s Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention and the Reinvestment Fund announced nine new awards as part of the Philadelphia Food Justice Initiative (PFJI). In total, the initiative has provided over $620,000 in grants over two rounds since its launch in 2019.
“PFJI is built on the wisdom of Philadelphia communities,” shared Amanda Wagner, Program Manager for Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Health Department, “especially those who have been historically marginalized, to advance their own solutions for themselves and their neighbors. Food justice cannot be ‘one size fits all’ and these public health investments are one part of the collective action we need to repair the harms of the food system and build towards a different, more just, future. We recognize the importance of joy, celebration, and connection as part of healthy food work.”
Of the 12 projects that have received PFJI grants since 2019, 10 are Black, Immigrant, and People of Color owned or led. Half of the projects are owned or led by women. The grantees reflect a variety of community-driven solutions to create a more just food system, including urban agriculture, fresh food markets, culinary training, and community meals.
“Supporting community-led solutions is at the heart of Reinvestment Fund’s work to support equitable food systems,” said Molly Hartman, Program Director at Reinvestment Fund. “We are delighted to be able to partner with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to support local entrepreneurs and communities that are empowered to grow, sell, and eat healthy food.”
This round’s grantees include Urban Creators, an organization that has used food, art, and education as tools to nurture resilience and self-determination in North Philadelphia since 2010. Urban Creators operates Life Do Grow (LDG) Urban Farm and Neighborhood Creative Commons in North Philly. With support from PFJI, Urban Creators is expanding community garden beds and opening a neighborhood marketplace at Life Do Grow farm, in addition to operating a flexible mobile market within the community, offering fresh produce and other essential products.
“This PFJI grant is building our capacity so we can meet the urgent needs of our community during this Covid-19 crisis, while also doing the much deeper work of long-term relationship building, resource sharing, and growing food together as a community exploring new and ancient forms of sovereignty and liberation,” shared Urban Creators.
Other grantees include VietLead, which will use PFJI support to maintain the Furness Community School Garden and to continue the Youth Leadership Program to provide access to fresh natural produce; and Honeysuckle Provisions, which is using PFJI support to plan to develop a project location in West Philadelphia to house a small sustainable grocery, meat market, café, community space, and supper club. A complete list of grantees is available with the PFJI Impact Report.
Historically, the food system has displaced, enslaved, and undervalued the labor, land rights, and self-determination of Black and brown individuals, women, immigrants, and indigenous people. The effects of those actions are evident in Philadelphia today, where neighborhoods with higher concentrations of lower-income households and/or Black and Latinx/Hispanic Philadelphians still have fewer fresh food choices. The PFJI supports projects that increase access to healthy foods in neighborhoods or communities with a history of health injustice. Preference is given to proposals led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color and/or people with lived experience with health injustice, including immigrants and people living with disabilities. Fair compensation of staff and partners is also key.
About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that people in communities across the country have the opportunities they strive for: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets and how transactions can have the most powerful impact, which has consistently earned us the top Aeris rating of AAA for financial strength and four stars for impact management. Our asset and risk management systems have also earned us an A+ rating from S&P. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.4 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at reinvestment.com.