By Leah Rapalee and Lisa Gavin
Photo: Black Farmers Collective
Launched during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Food Sovereignty Fund is a Food Lifeline grantmaking initiative to support neighbor and community-driven approaches to food justice and food sovereignty. The grants fund a wide range of projects, including building green houses and community gardens, providing culturally relevant foods to community members, professional development in farm management for BIPOC farmers, home deliveries of food, and community meals/classes to share knowledge with the next generation about the growing and preparation of culturally relevant foods.
The programs and projects all meet the following criteria: community-driven, equitable, advance economic stability and mobility, meet a unique community need, and shift power around food production, distribution, and consumption to local communities.
Food Lifeline has provided grants totaling $695,000 in FY23 to fund these projects, with an emphasis on addressing the root causes of hunger.
Read about each of the grant partner programs and their projects to support their communities:
Agape Service Project (returning grantee): $18,000 for summer food bank equipment and supplies, laundry detergent and hygiene items, and hot community meals for farmworker families and other guests. Learn more: archseattle.org/ministries/outreach-ministries/agape
Bellingham Food Bank (returning grantee): $60,000 for providing culturally relevant foods for Sea Mar Community Health Center’s Food FARMacia in Bellingham and Lummi Tribal Health Center’s Produce Program. Learn more: bellinghamfoodbank.org
Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington (returning grantee): $20,000 for seasonal planting at community gardens in farmworker housing communities in Skagit and Whatcom County, setting up on-site food pantries, and compensating youth residents for volunteering at food pantries. Learn more: https://ccsww.org/get-help/housing/housing-initiatives/farmworker-housing-initiative/
Lummi Nation Food Bank (returning grantee): $60,000 for purchasing and distributing salmon or other fish from local buyers, and for 20 new home gardens for tribal community members. Learn more: lummi-nsn.gov
Mercy Housing Northwest (returning grantee): $60,000 for stipends for resident food pantry volunteers and culturally relevant food purchasing at 10 BIPOC-led housing communities in Whatcom, Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties. Learn more: mercyhousingnw.org
Sea Mar Community Health Centers (returning grantee): $45,000 for food pantries in clinics in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and King Counties, and for volunteer incentives to support Food FARMacia in Bellingham. Learn more: https://www.seamar.org/
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (returning grantee): $60,000 to support and enhance food sovereignty work through 1) boosting the productivity of the Swinomish 13 Moons community garden areas; 2) using the Swinomish 13 Moons curriculum and other teaching materials to provide education on traditional plants and medicines; and 3) stocking produce carts weekly with fresh produce for community members. Learn more: swinomish-nsn.gov/resources/health-wellness/community-environmental-health
The Silent Task Force, in partnership with Urban Food Systems Pact (returning grantee): $60,000 for youth and other community members to make home deliveries of food to individuals and families in Skyway, build community, and tell story of programming. This program supports youth workforce development, community food distribution, and community building through outreach and engagement. Learn more: thesilenttaskforce.org & skywayufsp.org
Tri-Parish Food Bank (returning grantee): $60,000 for purchasing culturally appropriate foods from local, small growers and larger food suppliers. Learn more: https://www.icc-mv.org/Tri-Parish-Food-Bank
Black Farmers Collective (new grantee): $45,000 for an incubator program to provide professional development in farm management for the farm manager and one intern at Small Axe Farm. Learn more: blackfarmerscollective.com
Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad (new grantee): $55,000 for construction and electrification of a greenhouse to increase production, sales, and distribution of nopales. Learn more: facebook.com/cooperativatierraylibertad
Empower Next Generations (new grantee): $25,000 for the “Abuelitos Como En Casa” project that brings multiple generations together for culturally relevant food education and communal meals in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. Immigrant, Latinx Indigenous and Afro-descendant mentor-instructors lead monthly classes wherein they share wisdom with youth and families, centering learning on indigenous culturally relevant foods: nutritional values, uses and customs, traditional growing and preparation methods. Participants prepare culturally relevant traditional communal meals and organize cultural celebration activities for elders (“abuelitos”) in their communities. Learn more: empowernextgenerations.org
Mutual Aid Solidarity/Neighbors in Action (MANA) (new grantee): $12,500 in funding for building a community garden at the Kulshan Creek Youth Program (La Casa Azul), and $12,500 in grocery gift cards to distribute to program coordinators, volunteers, and community members in Skagit.
Northwest Agriculture Business Center (new grantee): $12,000 for loan readiness workshops and an event focusing on access to capital for Latinx farmworkers and others with potential to become farm owners or non-agricultural business-owners. Learn more: agbizcenter.org
Northwest Indian College (new grantee): $13,000 for weekly on-campus food distributions, gift cards to honor student volunteers, and development and publication of a campus community cookbook. Learn more: nwic.edu
Plant Based Food Share (new grantee): $47,000 for food from BIPOC farmers to distribute in weekly boxes, transportation and supplies for food distribution, staff support, communication and outreach capacity building, and translation services. Learn more: plantbasedfoodshare.org
Triumph Teen Life Center (new grantee): $30,000 for building a community garden for youth to grow food, build skills, and learn about the work their parents do on local farms, and purchasing culturally relevant foods for an on-site pantry for youth and their families. Learn more: triumphtlc.org