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Strengthening Community Connections



Since its launch over a decade ago in Flint, the Double Up Food Bucks program has been so popular that the city has become a centerpiece for program innovations. In 2014, in response to the Water Crisis, Fair Food Network expanded the foods eligible for earning Double Up in Flint, helping families bring home even more healthy food. Flint hosted our Cashier Engagement Pilot and introduced innovations to the point-of-sale system that are now used to seamlessly process Double Up transactions in locations across Michigan.

But despite Double Up’s historic impact in the city and its consistent presence as a community resource for more than a decade, Double Up usage in Flint — unlike in every other community where the program is available in Michigan — has declined in recent years. That means that at a time when Fair Food Network was making a concerted effort to increase program usage and reach more participants, Flint participants were using Double Up less.

In 2023, we launched a new community engagement strategy focused on gaining insight into this anomaly and seeking to learn more about how people were using Double Up in Flint. What we discovered from our conversations provided a lesson in the necessity of establishing and maintaining trust with program participants and making program adjustments informed by the unique needs of each community where we work. Leveraging our deep connection to the city of Flint, we spoke with local retailers, farmers, families, and evolve Double Up to meet Flint shoppers where they’re at.

Our Double Up team hosted a series of in-person events in 2023 to raise awareness, increase our presence in the community, and rebuild trust in the program. In addition, we expanded the visibility of the program by showing up more frequently in more places, including participating in promotions hosted by Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) and partnerships with Hurley Medical Center's Food FARMacy, Flint Fresh Mobile Market, and the Crim Fitness Foundation. Program marketing materials better reflected the unique experience of Flint Double Up participants, with video and photography highlighting local shoppers, imagery, and stories; a radio ad featuring a local mother and son; and a “How Do You Double Up?” video sharing the unique ways Flint shoppers can use the program.

Feedback from shoppers and program staff also helped us to better reach Flint residents who use SNAP. To ensure shoppers had a positive experience with the program, we intensified our Double Up site visits and ran more cashier engagement events. Relaunching Double Up at a critical location where the program had recently been discontinued proved to be a boon to the surrounding neighborhood. And we put more targeted advertising in places frequented by SNAP shoppers, like buses and bus terminals. “A lot of shoppers rely on the bus system to get to and from Double Up locations,” said Program Ambassador Aaron Neeley. “The main bus terminal is right across from the Flint Farmers Market. So, the bus ads and radio ads were very effective and reached a lot of Double Up customers.”

In addition to ramping up outreach activities, we evolved the program to meet Flint participants’ specific needs, relying on feedback from farmers, retailers, and shoppers to guide how Double Up works in the city. Again and again, we heard from program participants that the $10/day earning limit — temporarily reduced from $20/day in response to overwhelming demand during the pandemic — was forcing Flint families to make some difficult choices. While our team was in town to attend Rep. Dan Kildee’s press conference on the farm bill, we observed one family returning fruit to the shelf so they could stay within their Double Up budget. Said one Flint shopper: “I rely on Double Up Food Bucks. The limit change really hurt me.”

Flint families spoke and we listened: In fall of 2023, upon receiving an essential infusion of funding for Double Up from both state and federal sources, Fair Food Network raised the daily earning limit to its previous maximum of $20. The return to the familiar daily earning limit, said Associate Director of Double Up Food Bucks Michigan, Cassidy Strome, was a significant factor in turning around the yearslong decline in Double Up usage in Flint, contributing to a 49 percent increase in program usage since September 2023.

In 2024, we continue to work to keep Flint program usage high. Lessons learned over the past three years in Flint have reinforced the importance of showing up in person more often; strengthening our connections and building new ones; working alongside community partners to turn feedback into action; and raisings the visibility of a program that will continue to play an outsized role in the lives of Flint families. To Flint Farmers Market Manager, Karianne Martus, it’s hard to overstate the impact that Double Up Food Bucks has had — and will continue to have — in Flint: “I truly cannot imagine our market or our community without it.”

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Connecting Farmers and Communities



With strawberries ubiquitous on supermarket shelves even in January, we tend to think of warm-weather states providing America’s fruit and vegetable bounty. A little-known fact is that Michigan, even with its northerly latitude and long winters, has the second most diverse agricultural output in the United States, offering more than 300 different commodities from more than 50,000 farms dotting the landscape from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula.

Our Fair Food Fund bolsters local food systems by supporting Michigan farmers in getting their produce to market, creating networks and partnerships that strengthen the needed infrastructure connecting communities to farmers and the abundance grown all around them. Fair Food Fund’s financing and technical assistance allowed two such enterprises, Great Lakes Farm to Freezer and Lakeshore Depot, the opportunity to bring more locally grown food to the communities where they live and beyond. 

Great Lakes Farm to Freezer is a West Michigan processor distributing frozen produce exclusively sourced from Michigan farms to institutions, businesses, and families. Great Lakes Farm to Freezer’s commitment to supporting local agriculture includes offering local growers two and three times what other processors pay. A Fair Food Fund loan enabled the company to equip and outfit a new facility in Caledonia, Mich. that will support increased capacity for in-house production and enhance Great Lakes Farm to Freezer’s potential for expansion throughout the Great Lakes region. 

Farther north, in the largely rural Upper Peninsula community of Marquette, Mich., Lakeshore Depot serves as a “farm stop” (a hybrid grocery store/farmers market) that exclusively features local and regional foods and seasonal, fresh produce. Lakeshore Depot currently sources from 48 local farmers — who receive 75% of the sale of their produce — and an additional 38 local food vendors. Fair Food Fund’s microloan in 2023 helped to prepare Lakeshore Depot for future financing that will support their long-term growth plan, including hiring a full-time manager and increasing product selection. 

Even as these businesses broaden their offerings and expand their reach, they remain committed to their communities. Said Lakeshore Depot founder and owner, Mike Hainstock: “I wanted the store to have an impact felt throughout our local community, one that our community as a whole is excited about and carries real and positive change moving into the future.” 

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Reducing Food Waste for a Greater Purpose



Americans throw away more food than any other country, with nearly 92 billion pounds of food — or more than one-third of the U.S. food supply — rotting in landfills annually. This represents not only the loss of nutritious food that could have helped to feed families, but has environmental consequences in the wasted land, water, labor, and energy used to produce it. And as that waste decomposes, it produces harmful greenhouse gases. All told, it is estimated that the production of food that is eventually left to decompose in a landfill creates the equivalent greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars. 

Through the work of our Fair Food Fund, we recognize the opportunity to increase the social and environmental impact of our work by supporting waste reduction businesses whose sustainable practices support resilient agriculture by diverting and upcycling food waste.  

Located outside of Grand Rapids, Mich., Wormies is a vermicomposting (worm compost) business that helps local residents, restaurants and food product makers reduce their waste by upcycling food scraps into premium compost for sale to local producers and farmers. “Worms’ life purpose is to break down organic matter and make an all-natural fertilizer for plants,” says Wormies founder, Luis Chen. “Worms are turning waste into a resource of the highest value.” 

Our Fair Food Fund provided Wormies with a line of credit to meet the match requirement on a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The grant has allowed Wormies to expand its processing capacity from 60 to 200 cubic yards of food waste per month and increase its daily clientele from 610 to 2,000 households and businesses. “Composting prevents landfills from polluting the land and the waterways and the air we breathe,” says Chen. “Our community has a great opportunity to significantly reduce landfill contamination.”

We aim to make more investments in businesses like Wormies that are generating win-wins: advancing positive change in the food system and providing continuous benefits to their community and beyond.  

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Continuing to Meet Community Needs



With the cost of many grocery items hovering at historic highs, more and more Americans simply don’t have enough to eat. Without assistance, they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The need for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) has never been greater, with more than 40 million Americans relying on the program to put food on the table. And yet, even with SNAP, healthy and nutritious food is often out of reach for families with low household incomes.

Some of the most vulnerable consumers are forced to make daily decisions between buying healthy and affordable food. For Michiganders, that’s where programs like Double Up Food Bucks can help. Participants in SNAP are automatically eligible to use the Double Up program at one of its 234 participating farmers market and grocery store locations. Double Up incentivizes the purchase of healthy food by matching, dollar for dollar, SNAP purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables, up to $20 per day.  As one Michigan shopper put it, Double Up is the difference between eating fruits and vegetables and going without. “I couldn’t afford [fresh fruits and vegetables] without the program,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to try to help my grandmother...and maintain her where we’re at. It’s just me trying to hold things together as much as possible,” she said. “Double Up Food Bucks has helped.”   

For many Michiganders, the program is essential. And it’s not only consumers who benefit. All Double Up purchases at farmers markets support local agriculture. And during peak growing season, participating grocery stores stock more locally grown fruits and vegetables in their produce sections. Said one Michigan farmer: “It’s a program that supports small-scale Michigan vegetable growers while also increasing access to fresh, healthy foods for low-income folks — a win-win.”  

As farmers markets and Double Up grocers experience the benefits of increased purchases of local produce, the economic benefits ripple outward into communities, making the program a triple win. “We’re able to get assistance and then we’re putting it right back into our community and back to the farmers near our home, and so they’re able to get assistance,” said one SNAP shopper. “It makes for a more thriving market, a more thriving community, socially and economically.”  

“Trying to eat healthy, local foods costs hundreds of dollars a month no matter where I shop,” added another. “Not having to worry about this takes so much of the burden off of my plate because otherwise, I would be spending about [as] much as my rent on food, and after that cost I wouldn't normally have much money left over.”  

The Double Up program has weathered especially challenging times recently, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, even while helping to mitigate some of the effects of the crisis and take on persistent high inflation that has disproportionately hit food prices. Yet food insecurity predates the coronavirus and inflation, and presents a growing problem in the U.S. Double Up remains an essential community resource no matter what’s happening in the world around us. “We definitely saw a spike in usage during the pandemic — and a lot of new folks,” said Cassidy Strome, Associate Director of Double Up Food Bucks Michigan at Fair Food Network. “And still, even post-pandemic, we’re seeing elevated participation in the Double Up program.”  

“People really appreciate — and rely on — Double Up Food Bucks,” she added.  

Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks is a nutrition incentive program that aims to increase fruit and vegetable purchasing among people who use SNAP as part of their monthly food budget. The program is funded by the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), a grant program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with funds appropriated by the 2018 Farm Bill. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is firmly committed to creating marketing opportunities for Michigan fruit and vegetable growers and provides some of the matching funding for Double Up in Michigan. 

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Advancing Advocacy

From grassroots advocacy to building national coalitions, supporting change nationwide.



Every five years (or so), Congress passes a new farm bill, a complex package of legislation that sets the stage for our food and farm systems, determining funding levels for everything from agricultural subsidies to rural housing to land and water conservation. Its unflashy nature may relegate farm bill negotiations to somewhere near the bottom of the news cycle, but the farm bill that emerges from Congress has an enormous impact on the way we eat, the way we farm, and the sustainability of our food and farm systems. 

As can be expected, farm bill negotiations are often contentious — and that’s no less true now, in a time of particularly stark political division across the country. Originally slated for passage in 2023, the farm bill’s fate is still unclear. Unfortunately, in a divided Congress, the farm bill process has stalled. In 2024, our goal remains the same: to make sure a farm bill that increases support and promotes the expansion of nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs is signed into law. 

While the farm bill remains a victim of shifting political momentum and hyper-partisanship in Congress, Fair Food Network is perched in its familiar position, standing alongside partners to foster bipartisan consensus, and working to build on the successes of years past. At the top of the list of Fair Food Network goals for the next farm bill is the reauthorization of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), which provides funding for produce prescription and nutrition incentive programs like Double Up Food Bucks, helping participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) access and choose more fresh fruits and vegetables for their families. “Like many other programs included in the bill, GusNIP needs to be reauthorized with each new farm bill,” said Fair Food Network Federal Policy Lead, Mark Nicholson. “Fair Food Network successfully advocated for the inclusion of GusNIP in the 2014 and 2018 farm bills, and this time around, it’s less a matter of if than what. That’s why we’ve put so much energy into coalition building — to build the critical mass we need to ensure we achieve our policy goals and our common priorities.”  

In anticipation of the 2023 farm bill, Fair Food Network brought together national advocacy and state-based organizations — with stakeholders representing agriculture, anti-hunger, public health, retailers, grantees, and impacted communities — to form the Alliance for National Nutrition Incentives (ANNI). The resulting coalition has engaged in joint advocacy efforts throughout the protracted farm bill negotiations, promoting grassroots efforts and advocating for bipartisan policies that support and provide funding to programs working to keep healthy food within reach of all Americans. “The farm bill negotiation process is always a slow train, but one thing about this year’s bill that’s certain is that both Republicans and Democrats like GusNIP,” said Fair Food Network’s Director of Policy, Alex Canepa. “And I think that’s a testament to the outstanding job that ANNI has done of putting GusNIP in a context that really resonates with both parties.”   

Fair Food Network’s collaboration with ANNI partners has given the coalition a unified voice and situated it to leverage the impact and momentum of broader food movements — such as the burgeoning Food is Medicine movement — in years to come. “In 2024, we expect that ANNI membership will continue to grow and that the work accomplished in 2023 will jump-start advocacy efforts for the next farm bill and all farm bills going forward,” said Nicholson. “We plan to continue our advocacy work for as long as it takes to get this farm bill passed — and the next farm bill, too.”

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Fostering Innovation & Connection

Working with our Nutrition Incentive Hub partners to strengthen the field.



Across the country, there are many incentive programs designed to help people with low incomes bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables. Some of these programs, like Fair Food Network’s own Double Up Food Bucks, are well-established, statewide operations; some have just received their first round of federal funding to help them scale; and still others are just getting started. Even with the wide range of resources available to burgeoning GusNIP-funded nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs, connecting programs to these resources remains a challenge. 

To build equity in the field and support expansion to meet the growing need for healthy food access, the USDA launched the Nutrition Incentive Hub (also known as the NTAE) as part of the 2018 farm bill. Led by the Center for Nutrition and Impact in partnership with Fair Food Network and a coalition of partners, the Nutrition Incentive Hub supports the field of practitioners, as well as those who are applying for GusNIP funding nationwide, facilitating collaboration between programs of all shapes and sizes and promoting a community that works together to share successes, challenges, and best practices. Fair Food Network is a core partner of the Nutrition Incentive Hub, providing training and technical assistance aimed at helping practitioners overcome hurdles, innovate and deepen their impact, and build their capacity to expand their reach. 

In June 2023, Fair Food Network hosted the Hub’s fourth annual and first-ever hybrid national convening in Arlington, Virginia. (Due to pandemic-era restrictions, the 2020–2022 convenings were held virtually.) The event brought together GusNIP-supported nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects, practitioners, advocates, and other supporters, including more than 100 speakers and 636 attendees, with representation from 47 states and territories. This offered an opportunity for practitioners from Hawaii to Massachusetts to share their experiences from the field in real time.   

The national convening is just one way the Nutrition Incentive Hub works to jumpstart and support the growth of healthy food access programs. Since 2020, the Nutrition Incentive Hub has granted $3.1 million nationwide through its Capacity Building and Innovation Fund (CBIF), which Fair Food Network facilitates. These awards support capacity-building initiatives such as grant writing assistance, community engagement, coalition building, and strategic planning for smaller programs with fewer resources. For the first time in 2023, Fair Food Network offered CBIF awards with a specific funding pool for organizations that have never applied for or received GusNIP funding. In total, the Hub awarded $900,000 to 41 organizations across 23 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. (See the full list of awardees.) 

“The 2023 CBIF awardees were a diverse crop representing a variety of geographies and communities across the country,” commented Erica Raml, Senior Director of Nutrition Incentives. “One of the awardees, Nourish Knoxville in Knoxville, TN, will use their $25,000 award to hire three strategic positions to further their program and to write a GusNIP application. If they are successful in securing a future GusNIP funding, Nourish Knoxville can transition from a regional to a statewide nutrition incentive program.” 

Fair Food Network plans another round of CBIF awards in 2024 to continue to elevate organizations hopeful for GusNIP funding and those who are looking to expand or deepen their engagement in communities across the country.  

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Focusing on Community-Centered Impact Investing



W.E Da’Cruz didn’t return from her pilgrimage to southeast Africa with a plan to start a food business. That would come later. At the time, she simply wanted to recreate a dish inspired by her travels. But when she realized she was short on chickpeas and had to instead substitute mushrooms — an ingredient she didn’t even like — she discovered something big. Formed into a patty, grilled, and placed between two slices of bread, what would later become known at retailers across seven Midwestern states as the Cruz Burger was born: a vegan, non-GMO meat substitute that could hold up to a knife, but with no need for the chemicals and preservatives used in commercial veggie burgers and meat analogs.  

W.E. knew this burger would be a big hit — and not just with her newly vegetarian family. She decided in that moment to take her mushroom burger to market.  

But there was a problem: W.E. and her husband and co-founder, Dominique, had recently moved to Detroit. It was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they were preparing to have their third child, and they had no family and no connections in their new hometown.   

And also no experience in the food industry.  

That’s typically a space where ideas — no matter how good — are buried.  

Enter the Michigan Good Food Fund. Since 2015, Michigan Good Food Fund has been connecting Michigan food and farm businesses with the support they need to thrive. In nearly a decade of work with food entrepreneurs, W.E. and Dominique’s plight has been a refrain: Food entrepreneurs have the ideas. They recognize that starting a food business is both challenging and rewarding. And they’re willing to hustle and make the necessary sacrifices to make their business work. What they lack is experience and the connections to the financing and services they need to turn their idea into a viable business opportunity. “We got started launching the Mushroom Angel Company and we had one question that was answered, but it unlocked a series of questions that we didn’t have answers to,” said W.E. “You just don’t know what you don’t know.”  

That’s where Michigan Good Food Fund comes in. Its network of lenders and business specialists knows what budding food entrepreneurs do not, from how to scale a recipe from a home kitchen to a factory, to distribution logistics, to how to write a business plan or obtain licensing. “There is always a solution to a problem,” said W.E. “You may not have the resources needed readily available, but you know someone who knows someone who does. You’re always one or two people removed from your next breakthrough or opportunity.” Yet it’s most often a lack of connections to food business expertise — and not the viability of their product — that keeps food entrepreneurs on the sidelines.    

This “failure to launch” phenomenon is more than just a personal loss for a budding entrepreneur; it’s a loss for the whole community. Michigan Good Food Fund sees food as an essential lever to creating change, for individuals like W.E. and Dominique, and for communities, as well. “Every community has a food economy,” said Aaron Jackson, Director of the Michigan Good Food Fund at Fair Food Network. “And one of the most exciting ways we are creating vibrant communities is by investing in food businesses.”  

Michigan Good Food Fund eschews a conventional top-down model, building equity in communities and shifting power to community voice through its 21-member Stakeholder Board. The Board guides the shared vision of the collaborative, helping businesses access the critical resources they need to grow. In addition to technical assistance, food business owners need capital to feed their communities and be additive to the local economy. But as was the case with W.E. and Dominique, many food business owners don’t “fit the mold” for traditional financing. “Inability to secure financing is one of the primary reasons so many restaurants and food businesses fail within their first year,” said Jackson.   

To fuel the success of food businesses, Michigan Good Food Fund supplements technical assistance with creative, catalytic capital that meets entrepreneurs at all stages — from start-ups to growing enterprises to mature food businesses. Whether a term loan or a credit enhancement or microloan, Michigan food businesses seek Michigan Good Food Fund financing for everything from infrastructure enhancements to equipment purchases or to hire more employees, and so much more.   

To further stimulate investment in food businesses, Michigan Good Food Fund inaugurated the Seed Awards program in 2023. Seed Awards provide a pool of funding directly to Stakeholder Board members, allowing them to award grant funding to the food businesses they believe have the greatest impact on the communities they serve.  

Dynamite Hill Farms, in L’Anse, Michigan, was one of the 11 awardees in 2023. Utilizing their Upper Peninsula acreage, owners Jerry Jondreau and Katy Bresette engage in sustainable practices like wild rice harvesting and maple sap collection, honoring their profound connection to nature and their Ojibwe ancestry. “By maintaining our business, we are able to serve our family, our communities, and the region with food that sustains our health, and the health of the surrounding ecosystem,” said Jondreau. 

By developing innovative and creative capital solutions that create deeper connections with food entrepreneurs, Michigan Good Food Fund is increasing the collective impact of investors, business assistance providers, and food and farm entrepreneurs who are giving back to their community and providing opportunities for food entrepreneurs to, as Dominique would say, “live at the level of their consciousness rather than their circumstances.”   

In 2024, Michigan Good Food Fund will continue its nearly decade-long service to the region, cultivating meaningful change in communities from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula.

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A Change in Leadership

Kate Krauss Prepares to Take the Helm as CEO


Detroit, Michigan

At the end of 2022, Oran Hesterman transitioned to a new role as Founder & Resident Champion at Fair Food Network. Kate Krauss, our former Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer, began a new stage in her leadership as CEO.

For more than 50 years, Oran Hesterman has worked to build the good food movement, efforts that culminated in his founding of Fair Food Network in 2009. After more than a decade as the organization’s CEO, in which he oversaw the growth of Fair Food Network from a small nonprofit providing nutrition incentives to five farmers markets in Detroit to a national leader in nutrition incentives and impact investing, Oran transitioned to his new role of Founder & Resident Champion, making way for Kate Krauss to assume the role of CEO in 2023.

Over the course of the 14 years since Fair Food Network began, one thing has remained constant: our founding belief in the power of food, which has inspired both Oran and Kate throughout their careers.

When we start with food, we build a path toward better community health, economic opportunity, and environmental resilience. Through today's changes and those still to come, we know that food offers us unlimited potential for building community, creating common ground, and addressing long-standing inequities.

To meet the current moment as we transitioned to new leadership, our team:

Expanded our mission with a new Theory of Change

Building on more than a decade of impact and growth, we broadened our mission. As we continue to champion the power of food to build thriving communities, we'll do so with a new focus on environmental stewardship and a definitive commitment to equity and justice, guided by an updated Theory of Change that provides a blueprint for our work.

Welcomed new CEO Kate Krauss, alongside a larger leadership team

Kate's transition, unanimously supported by Fair Food Network's board, was a natural evolution for the organization. During her tenure as COO and as Executive Director, Kate built a strong foundation for growth, developed operational infrastructure, and diversified funding and programming. She grew the organization's budget fivefold, expanding work across community-based impact investing, nutrition incentives, evaluation, and public policy. To achieve this, she also tripled Fair Food Network's staff; today, our senior leadership team collectively brings decades of experience in food and agriculture, public health, community-based impact investing, workforce development, entrepreneurship, evaluation, and public policy.

Furthered commitment to community listening and accountability

We are committed to local businesses, farmers, families, and communities, and that’s why we listen first when we engage these partners, develop systems to measure and demonstrate our impact, and hold ourselves accountable to many and varied stakeholders along the way. We continue our dedication to sharing and exchanging knowledge and insights with all who promote food as a tool for equity and a powerful instrument for change.

A continued collaboration with Oran Hesterman, Founder & Resident Champion

Through writing and public speaking, Oran will champion food-based approaches to establishing lasting systemic change and promoting environmental stewardship. He will also focus on mentoring the next generation of leaders and collaborate with partners, funders, and policymakers to bring about the change we seek.


WATCH: Legacy Retrospective

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Advocacy in Action

Championing polices that bring proven, restorative solutions to scale.



The 2023 farm bill is a critical juncture in the national effort to improve nutrition security for the approximately 40 million low-income families and individuals who rely on SNAP. As the largest federal investment in our food and farming systems, SNAP distributes more than $80 billion per year, much of it to families struggling to put food on the table.  

To ensure that those dollars provide fresh, locally grown food options for communities around the country, Fair Food Network’s policy team uses its experience on the ground and in the legislature to channel funding and political momentum toward restorative solutions like nutrition incentives and produce prescription programs. Our advocacy efforts in 2022 helped to set the stage for negotiations around the 2023 farm bill and bring proven solutions to scale at the state level.  

In 2022, Fair Food Network led a collective effort to advance federal policy priorities for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) by establishing the Alliance for National Nutrition Incentives (ANNI). ANNI includes member organizations that range from industry trade groups, such as the Farmers Market Coalition and National Grocers Association, and consumer advocacy organizations like Union of Concerned Scientists and Center for Science in the Public Interest, to nonprofit health agencies like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association. ANNI also intentionally engages lower capacity, grassroots, and BIPOC-led organizations—those that have often been underrepresented in the policy development process—in defining priorities.  

The disparate stakeholders that comprise ANNI—ranging from agriculture, anti-hunger, public health, retail advocacy, and other interests—share support for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP, formerly FINI), which was established in the 2014 farm bill with strong bipartisan backing. GusNIP provides funding for produce prescription and nutrition incentive programs like Double Up Food Bucks, helping SNAP participants access and choose more fresh fruits and vegetables for their families in 48 states. 

“Very few farm bill programs attract bi-partisan engagement as broadly as fruit and vegetable incentives. When all those different voices are singing in harmony, it can be a beautiful and highly impactful tune,” said Mark Nicholson, senior director of policy at Fair Food Network. “We are so heartened by the diverse engagement from the GusNIP advocacy community around collective priorities for the 2023 farm bill.” 

In 2022, ANNI worked through open dialogue and collaboration to first identify areas of mutual agreement that the diverse group of GusNIP stakeholders can advance together. Coalition members determined a set of priorities that could garner broad support and in 2023 introduced these priorities in draft farm bill legislation, calling for a number of modifications to the current GusNIP policy. One such change would be the reduction or elimination of the federal match requirement for GusNIP grantees. Programs applying for GusNIP funding are required to secure a one-to-one match, meaning that they must find funding sources to match, dollar for dollar, the awards they receive through GusNIP. This requirement of GusNIP grantees is especially burdensome for first-time applicants to the program and is often prohibitive enough to keep some programs from applying for GusNIP funding altogether. Coalition members agreed that the match requirement was inhibiting the growth and expansion of nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs, no matter their size. To alleviate this burden and strengthen our collective capacity and impact, the ANNI coalition is advocating for the reduction of the match requirement to 25% of the federal award, and the total elimination of the requirement for pilot programs. 

In addition to advocating for a reduction in the match requirement, ANNI is working to ensure adequate funding for nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs, as well as recommending changes to improve coordination between the federal agencies responsible for GusNIP. To ensure these priorities are included in the 2023 farm bill, Fair Food Network and representatives of ANNI have worked to increase policymakers’ awareness of the importance of healthy food incentives. The coalition has convened with key policymakers as an opportunity to establish and strengthen relationships, as well as convey the impact and success of nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs and the challenges they face sustaining and scaling those impacts.

“One constant in Washington is the high turnover of both elected officials and their staff, especially across the five-year farm bill cycle. This requires ceaseless education and engagement on the Hill,” commented Nicholson. “The ability to share broad coalition policy priorities with legislative staff is a tremendous value-add for them as well as the community we advocate for.” 

Fair Food Network’s policy advocacy work extends to the state level as well, where we worked with programs in New York, Mississippi, and Texas to successfully lobby for first-time state funding of nutrition incentives and similarly helped to position Double Up in New Jersey for success in its ongoing campaign for state funding. Our engagement with state appropriators and budget officials in 2022 has succeeded in demonstrating the imperative of sustaining the Double Up program in our home state of Michigan, as well: In June 2023, Michigan legislators announced funding for Double Up Food Bucks totalling $4.9 million through the end of 2024. The coordinated effort of our policy team to advocate for state funding of Double Up Food Bucks means that families in communities as far apart as Syracuse and Gulfport and Flint will continue to have consistent and local access to locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

Success in achieving our 2023 policy objectives has helped to scale programs for statewide reach and laid the groundwork for a bipartisan farm bill that we anticipate will make fruits and vegetables more accessible to all SNAP recipients.  

“Every farm bill has built upon earlier success for the GusNIP community, and our hope is that 2023 is no different,” commented Nicholson. “As fruit and vegetable incentives continue to grow its innovation and evaluation and scale nationally, the Alliance for National Nutrition Incentives, powered by our advocacy expertise, is setting the stage for increased support in the current farm bill and also helping to build a movement for long-term systemic change.” 

Learn more about GusNIP advocacy.

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Supporting Food and Farm Entrepreneurs in Michigan

with Michigan Good Food Fund



Michigan Good Food Fund’s work is guided by the shared vision of our Stakeholder Board—a diverse collective of people with deep roots in Michigan and a range of food industry careers. Some of them have received loans from the lending network in the past. 

When Michigan Good Food Fund began in 2015, the lending network focused primarily on entrepreneurs providing healthy food to underserved communities. As we worked together with our partners toward a more resilient, inclusive food industry, we evolved our definition of “good food” beyond food that meets certain nutritional criteria. Our collaborative efforts aim to ensure that our future investments reflect the priorities of the people and communities most affected by wealth inequities. 

Today, we define “good food” as food that serves communities and strengthens the economy. We are focused on supporting food and farm entrepreneurs who represent communities that have been marginalized due to race, ethnicity, and/or gender. Our goal is to help them prepare for and secure investment that will help their businesses grow and thrive. 

As administrative managers of Michigan Good Food Fund, we worked alongside our newly convened 21-member stakeholder board to define the strategic vision of the lending network. With their partnership, the collaborative supported 17 businesses with flexible financing in 2022, including a wide range of loans and other financial products that can be used for equipment, inventory, property improvements, and more. The collaborative also provided 72 businesses with tailored business assistance or one-on-one consulting to offer guidance on everything from filing taxes to marketing to opening up new sales channels. We also hosted periodic workshops tailored to entrepreneurs in specific locations or food business sectors.  

“We know that food and farm entrepreneurs are an essential part of vibrant communities and that investing in small businesses improves people’s access to culturally relevant food, creates jobs, and strengthens local economies,” said Aaron Jackson, Director of Michigan Good Food Fund at Fair Food Network.  

Over half of the businesses that received support from MGFF in 2022 are located in a low-income/low-access community (51%), and most are located in an economically distressed area (74%). In a survey of businesses supported by the Michigan Good Food Fund, 72% of respondents expected to hire additional employees in 2023. In addition, 71% of respondents said they were able to develop or refine their business model or plan as a result of our support, and 41% were able to bring a product or service to market for the first time.  

Together with our partners, we’re building equity by improving access to resources that should be equally available to everyone; our specific focus on marginalized community members helps to level the playing field to realize the inclusive economy envisioned by Fair Food Network, its partners, and the communities where we work.


Learn more about Michigan Good Food Fund and its Stakeholder Board

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Supporting Nutrition Incentives Nationwide

With the Nutrition Incentive Hub 



In 2019, Fair Food Network and long-time evaluation partner Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition co-designed and co-developed the Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Center (NTAE) to serve the needs of the Double Up Food Bucks national network and the broader field of Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grantees. 

In the time since its founding, the Nutrition Incentive Hub or Hub as the NTAE is affectionately known, has become the recognized source of healthy food incentive learning, evaluation, and support. Fair Food Network has used its knowledge, resources, and experience gained through the success of its pioneering, home-grown nutrition incentive program (Double Up Food Bucks) in Michigan to help communities across the US start, strengthen, and scale their own nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs.  

As GusNIP-funded projects continue to start up and scale up across the country, we are seeing promising results. The Hub’s national evaluation of GusNIP-funded incentive programs show that participants eat more fruits and vegetables than the average adult. And the longer they participate in such programs, the more fruits and vegetables they eat over time. As the Hub works to build on this exciting momentum, GusNIP-funded programs continue to face challenges to scaling up to meet community needs.   

Solving problems, together 

The Hub works with programs of all sizes—from those just establishing a foothold to mature organizations scaling statewide—to strategically solve common problems. No matter the size of the operation, one challenge all programs contend with is implementing technology. Programs like Double Up that require SNAP transactions need software that is built into the farmers market or grocery store point of sale (POS) system. Because of the difference in program size and mechanics, what works best for one program may not work at all for another. To solve this dilemma, the Hub is working with stakeholders to refine system requirements and foster buy-in for clear, shared guidelines for incentive processing and distribution technology.  


A key function of the Hub is to test and/or document innovations in order to promote and scale what works. Many programs, for instance, inspired by changes in shopping behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, are interested in offering an e-commerce platform and the option to make SNAP purchases online. These efforts are by nature trial-and-error, and the Hub is coordinating learning to disseminate best practices among grantees as they test solutions to common obstacles.  

Currently trending among GusNIP grantees are produce box programs and home delivery offerings. In this model, shoppers receive a farm share box with pre-selected, GusNIP-eligible fruits and vegetables. In many cases, the GusNIP awardee assembles these boxes and delivers them to the shopper, increasing access to fruits and vegetables for those who may be homebound, disabled, or undergoing medical treatments. Programs across the country — from South Carolina to Washington, from Oregon to Ohio, from Texas to Washington, DC — all received GusNIP awards in 2022 that supported farm share boxes. As this trend grows, the Hub is offering guidance on how best to establish and support farm share box programs across the country. 

Supporting the field 

One thing all nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs have in common is the need to secure funding to sustain their operations. A major source of this funding is the USDA’s GusNIP program, which in 2022 invited applications for initiatives to innovate nutrition incentive and produce prescription implementation. Composing a large-scale GusNIP application is challenging even for seasoned veterans, and the Nutrition Incentive Hub acts as a guide, helping practitioners navigate the complex application process. In 2022, GusNIP-funded produce prescription and nutrition incentive grantees were required for the first time to have a one-on-one consultation with the Hub. Fair Food Network led the process, providing more than 180 hours of technical assistance to 166 organizations, 75% of which were first-time applicants to GusNIP. GusNIP awards included $20.7 million for 43 produce prescription programs, 95% of which were first-time GusNIP applicants who the Hub will assist with new technical assistance offerings customized for their specific needs in 2023.  

Still, other more established programs have extensive operating experience and are looking to scale their programs statewide. With expansion comes the need for additional fundraising and coalition building. In 2022 FFN helped programs across the country to better understand the process for pursuing and securing state-level funding. For example, we gave Field & Fork Network in New York a crash course in the appropriations process. Double Up New York received first-time funding of $2 million from the New York state legislature in 2022 and is now working to secure permanent funding for Double Up in the state budget. We also provided technical support to Jackson Medical Mall Foundation’s efforts to educate the Mississippi state legislature about incentives, including commissioning a study of Double Up Mississippi demonstrating the economic impact of nutrition incentives in their state. Double Up Mississippi received first-time state funding of $400,000 in 2022. Other successes included the Sustainable Food Center’s securing of $6 million dollars in the 2024 Texas state budget, and City Green now strongly positioned to secure first-time funding from the New Jersey legislature in 2023.    

Building capacity  

In 2022, the Hub awarded $1 million to twenty-four nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects across the country to support initiatives that expand their reach, enhance community engagement, and strengthen their program’s long-term sustainability in high-need communities. Grants of up to $50,000 each will enhance nutrition incentive and produce prescription projects at farmers markets and grocery stores in sixteen states and the Blackfeet Nation (Montana) to expand affordable access to fruits and vegetables as the need for nutrition security remains heightened. 

As a trusted partner for program development, technical assistance, and evaluation, the Nutrition Incentive Hub in 2022 helped to develop, document, and model approaches that create immediate impact, support community-driven progress, and change systems for the better. 

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A Double Up Michigan Partnership Improves Local Sourcing

With Taste the Local Difference  


Detroit, Michigan

In 2022, Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program partnered with Taste the Local Difference to take a closer look at ways of improving local sourcing for grocery stores in Detroit. 

Taste the Local Difference has an expansive statewide network of relationships with Michigan’s farmers, farmers markets, and retail grocers. These connections are key to helping food retailers in places like Detroit and other participating locations across the state attain and maintain Double Up’s 20% local sourcing requirement during peak growing season.      

Paul Green, Local Food Retail Specialist at Taste the Local Difference, led this work on behalf of Double Up Food Bucks. To start, Green partnered closely with the grocery store owners and managers to better understand existing produce supply chains and barriers for sourcing local produce. Over the first year of the project, he began to uncover common issues related to local sourcing in Detroit and identified why certain stores were more successful than others.       

Green says, “For many store managers and owners, it’s the first time they’ve had support to look at their supply chains and develop new tools and strategies to source more local food. It’s often not an issue of retailers wanting to source more locally—there are so many barriers at play. It’s taken a year to get to a place where we understand the challenges they are facing and can truly talk about what’s possible.”     

“Everybody wants this to work,” he continued. “Not a single person I’ve spoken to opposes the idea of local [sourcing]. They just don’t have the resources—whatever they might be—to really focus on this.”      


What did Green learn so far?    

It takes a lot of time to research ways to source local produce for grocery stores. It’s often time store owners or managers don’t have, especially when they are trying to keep their doors open. Green commented that when they’re able to find a local sourcing formula that works, they will move forward with it.    

There are opportunities to build connections between the local food distribution system, suppliers, and grocery stores. Local grocery stores offer the produce available to them through their suppliers. If suppliers are not connected to local food distributors, it inherently limits access to such products. 

Many grocery stores are getting more local foods than reported. Michigan-grown produce requires separate tracking. It is not always obvious what was grown locally when it arrives at the grocery store. In some cases, invoices identify if the produce supplied is local, but not always. This makes it difficult for retailers to report. 

For grocery stores, sometimes it’s as simple as asking for what you need. Green recalled a visit to one food retailer: The manager called his distributor on the spot and asked for more locally sourced produce. The supplier immediately said yes. The food retailer began receiving a monthly report detailing the store’s Michigan produce purchases. In another instance, he learned that a general manager at a store in an under-resourced area regularly achieved the 20 percent goal by directing their produce buyer to prioritize locally sourced produce from July to November. Lastly, one of the distributors that Green spoke to said they implemented a new Michigan section in their weekly food order book to make it easier for grocery stores to identify local produce.     

Grocery stores choose products based on what makes financial sense for them—especially when contending with high inflation rates or during challenging times like the COVID crisis. Store managers and owners do their best to reach the 20 percent local sourcing requirement, but they often don’t have time to research ways to source more local products, even when it can make financial sense.

And this is exactly where Green focused his efforts, connecting locally sourced food within Michigan’s farm-to-fork networks to retailers and, ultimately, consumers—to the benefit of all involved.

“Local food makes so much possible in Michigan,” Green stated. “There’s a lot of food being grown in Michigan to do a lot of feeding. When we can better connect the farmer to retailer to the consumer, we can alleviate a lot of challenges in the community. More dollars into the pockets of farmers, strong local economies, and more healthy food choices for Michigan families.”    
Looking ahead, Fair Food Network and Taste the Local Difference aim to work with more distributors to prioritize locally grown produce in Michigan grocery stores. The supply-chain benefits of increased wholesale purchases of Michigan produce can lower prices for shoppers who are conscious of buying locally—especially those who use Double Up. And the distributors love selling Michigan produce—after all, they’re Michigan food businesses, too. 

Local sourcing is a win for everyone—from growers to sellers to shoppers—that wants to support Michigan grown produce and make it more accessible to Double Up shoppers in places like Detroit and beyond.  

"Double Up Food Bucks continues to be a win for families, farmers, and local economies,” said Cassidy Strome, Acting Director for Double Up Food Bucks in Michigan. "Now more than ever, we see and hear how impactful Double Up is as more families utilize the program across the state. The need for affordable food that nourishes the body and soul continues to grow, and our partnerships with food advocates, the community, and funders are critical to Double Up's success."   

Double Up Food Bucks is a nutrition incentive program that aims to increase fruit and vegetable purchasing among people who use SNAP as part of their monthly food budget. The program is funded by the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), a grant program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with funds appropriated by the 2018 Farm Bill. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is firmly committed to creating marketing opportunities for Michigan fruit and vegetable growers and provides some of the matching funding for Double Up in Michigan. 

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Detroit Soul

Detroit entrepreneurs redefine soul food

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$50,000 Collateral Initiative investment enabling financing from Detroit Development Fund


Detroit, Michigan

In 2010, Detroit residents Jerome Brown and Samuel Van Buren started a catering business that served homestyle cooking, but with healthful substitutes. “My childhood memories are family gatherings where we all got together around food. But we wanted to make it better for you. The same soulful flavors, just made with lighter options,” says Brown.

So, collard greens are cooked with smoked turkey, not ham hock. Lard is swapped out for vegetable oils. But the meals still pack a flavorful punch. Turns out, others agreed too. While working full-time jobs for nearly ten years, and with the support of their wives, Brown and Van Buren built a robust customer base for their catering and to-go meals through Detroit Soul. In 2015, they went from operating remotely to a brick-and-mortar location where customers could call in and pick up orders. By 2020, they conquered the traditional 50 percent failure rate for small businesses and saw sales soar.

“We wanted to be that neighborhood place, where people could turn to for a good nutritious meal, and not have to go to fast-food establishments, which are everywhere,” says Brown.

To make it more affordable, particularly during the pandemic, they started offering half portions that were priced well under $10, ideal for one person. “We really didn’t want someone to feel like it was out of their reach,” he adds.

But there was one thing that Brown and Van Buren had not been able to do: Provide a place for folks to sit, gather, and have a meal together. They wanted a sit-down restaurant, in addition to their carry-out spot.

“Many people have been asking us, ‘why not have a proper place where I can come and bring my family,’” Brown says. “So we started looking at how to finance it, knowing that restaurants are not an easy business.”

Their first venture had been self-funded for years. But to build out a second location, Detroit Soul needed additional financing. Brown and Van Buren were introduced to a local lender, Detroit Development Fund (DDF), as they looked for a loan.

As a nonprofit organization and CDFI, DDF was intrigued, but cautious of making another restaurant investment given the number of other restaurants in its portfolio and the challenges facing the food service industry with the pandemic. In addition, because DDF makes loans of up to $250,000, this one was erring on the larger size.

To help de-risk the investment, DDF worked with Fair Food Network as a like-minded partner in the Michigan Good Food Fund. Fair Food Network contributed $50,000 to Detroit Soul’s deal from its Fair Food Fund Collateral Initiative. In fact, it was during the pandemic when many small businesses, especially those led by Black and Brown entrepreneurs, were at risk of being washed away, that Fair Food Network launched the Collateral Initiative as a credit enhancement tool to help de-risk investments for other business lenders like DDF.

With this additional collateral in place, DDF was able to fund the entire expansion loan, which closed in July 2021. “Had it not been for the Michigan Good Food Fund partners and the Collateral Initiative this deal may have been much harder for us to pull together,” says Angelia Sharp, a senior loan officer at DDF, and a patron at Detroit Soul.

But the support was more than just funds to live out their dream of a dine-in restaurant, Brown says. “It’s been nothing but hands-on support. If I have a question pertaining to the business, I have someone to turn to for advice.”

Follow-on business assistance is part of the Collateral Initiative, too. After the loan, Fair Food Network helped the duo with other business needs, such as marketing and building out a robust website, to further support the business’ success.

As part of Fair Food Network’s business assistance, a new website and culturally relevant content were developed to speak to the rich history of Detroit and the food Detroit Soul serves up daily. With the right marketing support, Brown and VanBuren could focus on other aspects of opening a new location.

Even with the experience of a corporate career, Brown and Van Buren joke that navigating all the regulations in the food industry have been mind-boggling. They got their first taste of forms, paperwork, and compliance regs when the two scoped out a kitchen for Detroit Soul. Brown says, “I remember spending a full 8-hour day going from city office to city office, asking why I had been charged certain fees and what were all the inspections I needed to be in business. There needs to be a roadmap for these kinds of things. I persevered, but many would have given up.”

Working alongside Fair Food Network and other local partners, Detroit Soul now has funding secured and business support at their disposal. Brown and Van Buren expect to open their second location and launch their new website in summer 2022. They hope to repeat the success of Detroit Soul once again.

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North Flint Food Market

A blueprint for food sovereignty

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$100,000 bridge loan

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Business Assistance

1:1 multi-year embedded support over five years


Flint, Michigan

After the Flint water crisis in 2014, the last two major grocery stores left the city’s north side, leaving residents without access to healthy food at the moment it was needed most.

Pastor Reginald Flynn, a Flint native who returned to the city 13 years ago to minister at the Foss Avenue Baptist Church, was not surprised. Nor was he going to beg them to come back.

Instead, spurred by residents, the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation, a place-based nonprofit led by Pastor Flynn, decided to open a new grocery store — one that was by and for the community. 

Says Pastor Flynn, “This is a place where corporations come and go at their will. We don’t want to be subjected to that. We want to be the solution."

The journey has not been without financial and bureaucratic hurdles. Yet after six years, North Flint Reinvestment Corporation raised over $7 million and the North Flint Food Market broke ground, revitalizing a long-vacant and obsolete building.

Fair Food Fund was part of the capital stack, providing a critical bridge loan that helped cover transaction costs — a common hurdle, especially for community-based developers that lack deep balance sheets to prepay such hefty expenses.

Beyond financing, we’ve been honored to know and partner with Pastor Flynn over the past five years through our work with the Michigan Good Food Fund. 

Given Fair Food Network’s deep work in Flint with our Double Up Food Bucks SNAP incentive program, we recognized early on the importance of this grocery project. In addition to bringing healthy food to North Flint, the coop was the first step toward a broader vision of community-first development and cooperative economics.

This was a project that needed to come to fruition, and we wanted to help. We engaged a member of our Fair Food Fund investment committee, Daniel Tellalian, founder and CEO of Angel City Advisors. With expertise in healthy-food retail and community-development finance, Tellalian served as an embedded thought partner and collaborator with Pastor Flynn, tackling the financial plan, brokering connections, and coordinating a complex capital stack.

It has been a long-haul adventure — more than five years, 12+ sources of funds recruited, tax credit financing, hundreds of hours, and a few thousand emails. Yet it is this type of integrated, long-term support that demonstrates the reimagined healthy-food financing that’s often needed to support good food enterprises.

It also models how investments follow community-driven priorities. Alongside public and private investments, the co-op market was funded by 900+ member-owners and more than $200,000 that was raised by the community itself.

While this project was powered by the vision and tenacity of Pastor Flynn, there were so many others that stepped up and provided financial support along the way, including the State of Michigan, the City of Flint, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Ruth Mott Foundation, ELGA Credit Union, USDA Community Food Projects, Healthy Food Financing Initiative, LISC, and the Food Co-op Initiative, as well as other community funders and New Markets Tax Credit partners.

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Supermercado Mexico

Local grocery chain triples its footprint to meet local demand

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$100,000 participation in a $346,800 loan with Northern Initiatives, a fellow Michigan Good Food Fund lender

A white map of Michigan with a purple dot on Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Supermercado Mexico is a local grocery chain with three stores in Western Michigan’s Grand Rapids metro area. The Division Street location opened in 2011 in a corridor of businesses serving a largely Mexican and Mexican-American clientele. It has since become the company’s anchor grocery location featuring a full-service butcher, produce, baked goods, and other culturally relevant products and services.

The stores are owned by Olvera Enterprises, which is led by brothers Javier and Pablo Olvera, who have years of food-retail service experience. In addition to the three grocery stores, they also own a taqueria and bakery in town.

Yet the Olveras’ commitment to supporting Hispanic-owned businesses in the Grand Rapids community runs deeper: In the works is also Placita Olvera, an ambitious multi-use project that aims to transform an old factory building into a multi-use space featuring a brewery, multiple Mexican restaurants, as well as office space for Hispanic-led businesses and nonprofits in the area. The Olveras also envision hosting an outdoor farmers market to bring fresh food into a neighborhood that lacks many other options

As Supermercado Mexico's store outgrew its Division Street location, the Olveras purchased a building next door to expand. This move tripled the size of their flagship store and bumped up staffing needs to 20 more employees.

This all required an upfront infusion of capital.

In response the Olveras turned to one of their trusted lending partners, Northern Initiatives. Through its role as a lending partner with the Michigan Good Food Fund, Northern Initiatives had also provided a 2018 loan supporting the Placita Olvera project. 

While Northern Initiatives was unable to commit to the full amount needed, they saw the potential in the project and brought it to other Michigan Good Food Fund lending partners for consideration and collaboration. 

Given the strong mission fit for Fair Food Fund, we were excited to work together to make this investment possible.

In July 2021, Fair Food Fund provided a $100,000 participation in a $346,800 loan with Northern Initiatives. December 2021 saw follow-on financing also in partnership with Northern Initiative. Together, these investments are supporting building improvements, equipment, and working capital for the expanded store.

"Supermercado Mexico is a longtime Northern Initiatives customer. We were pleased that the Fair Food Fund joined us in supporting their latest expansion since we share the same goal – healthy, thriving communities," says Elissa Sangalli, President of Northern Initiatives.

Today, Supermercado’s doors are open, welcoming the community to a beautiful new store. From the outside’s street appeal to the inside’s vibrant colors and hand-painted murals celebrating different states in Mexico, the new store has created a buzz. Store manager Benjamin Cochran notes that they’re seeing many new faces with a considerable number of people stopping in to see the murals and find their home state.

"The Supermercado Mexico and Olvera Enterprises teams poured their hearts into making this store everything it could be and more,” says Cochran. “This is all for the betterment of the community; without the community, none of this would be possible. They deserved better, so we wanted to give them better. More space, new installations, a larger product selection, but with the same great service and experience they've known for years. We are so proud of all our teams for all their hard work and look forward to providing the community with all their needs in one stop!"

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Daily Table

Grocery chain on a mission brings together Double Up and financing

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$125,000 Line of Credit

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Business Assistance

Double Up Food Bucks partner since 2018


Dorchester and Roxbury,

“America’s food system is a paradox: We have hunger alongside sky-high rates of obesity and diet-related illnesses, often in the same places. Healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are economically out of reach for a lot of families. It’s not just a shortage of calories; it’s a shortage of affordable nutrients.”

Michael Malmberg

Chief Operating Officer, Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store chain in Massachusetts

Daily Table is on a mission to change that equation. It provides fresh produce, grocery staples, and made-from-scratch prepared foods at prices low enough to fit within every budget, including families who rely on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps).

It also roots in communities most in need, starting in the diverse Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester and Roxbury. “We had a customer tell us that she was able to buy berries for the first time because otherwise they’re beyond her budget. The barriers to healthy eating are truly economic,” Malmberg reiterates.

Daily Table’s unique model is the brainchild of Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s. There are some similarities: Daily Table stores have a small footprint at 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, a fraction of some of the grocery superstores, which can top out at 25,000 square feet. This keeps costs low and builds on the Trader Joe’s-like experience: Far fewer products (at about 500) and a more personalized shopping experience.

Daily Table also makes a concerted effort to be a bright, upbeat, and welcoming place for everyone. “We don’t have security guards following you around, which I see in a lot of urban markets,” Malmberg says. “It goes back to treating people with dignity. We want to earn your patronage just like any other store.”

But what makes Daily Table stand out is its produce-first focus and its methodical commitment to low prices, offering customers 30 percent in savings compared to other grocery stores. 

“As a nonprofit, we can take advantage of favorable pricing from suppliers who value our mission, volunteers to help with tasks in our kitchens, and discounted or donated foods, which a for-profit entity could not do as easily,” says Malmberg. In addition, its nonprofit status opens opportunities, including accessing grants and donations from the local community and philanthropic donors. 

While most of Daily Table’s food is purchased from traditional vendors, a unique aspect of its supply chain is sourcing products that are closer to their “sell by” date than could be sold to a traditional retailer. While still high quality and safe, these products are often available at steep discounts or even donated. This allows Daily Table to pass along savings to its customers, while balancing out the razor thin margins on many of its other products.

For families that rely on SNAP, their food dollars have gone even further at Daily Table since it launched the healthy food incentive program Double Up Food Bucks in 2018. With Double Up, shoppers get 50 percent off fruit and vegetables bought with their SNAP dollars, up to $5 a day. 

Oran Hesterman, our founder CEO, was thrilled with Double Up’s success at Daily Table. “It was the fastest start we’ve ever seen with Double Up. Daily Table was doing more business in three months than other stores were able to do in one year.”

As COVID pushed one in eight Americans into hunger, Daily Table’s grocery stores became even more essential. 

Massachusetts saw a nearly 60 percent increase in the state’s food- insecurity rate, one of the largest increases in the country. Daily Table’s SNAP and Double Up purchases soared: In 2020, Daily Table had nearly $200,000 in Double Up Food Bucks redemptions, a 54 percent increase over 2019.

To expand its reach, Daily Table opened a third location in Central Square, Cambridge in 2021 and is in the process of launching two additional stores in 2022 — all of which is growing its need for working capital.

To help fill the gap, Daily Table turned to Fair Food Network’s Fair Food Fund for a $125,000 line of credit. This investment will free Daily Table from having to tap its grant dollars for inventory purchases or overhead costs, instead prioritizing those dollars to support Double Up redemptions.

Such flexible financing will provide Daily Table with a crucial bridge through low-cash periods during this expansion phase, particularly in between grant cycles or when philanthropic funding is low.

For our Fair Food Fund, it was a natural fit.

“With its focus on affordable, fresh food and its commitment to paying livable wages and hiring directly from the neighborhoods it serves, Daily Table is a natural mission fit,” says Hesterman. “Overlaying financing with our Double Up partnership was a win-win.”

As Daily Table expands to new locations, Hesterman is excited not just for communities in Massachusetts but beyond. “If this model can work economically, it has massive implications for communities across the country that lack healthy food options.”

Malmberg agrees. “We are working hard to further develop and refine the Daily Table model in Boston in the coming year with the goal to expand to new geographies. We believe that Daily Table can be the first truly scalable solution to nutrition insecurity in America.”

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Community-Driven Financing

with the Michigan Good Food Fund


Detroit, Michigan

This year we assumed administrative management of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a statewide food financing collaborative designed to support food entrepreneurs sparking positive change in their communities.

This shift came at a significant moment. Partners had collectively infused $17 million in loans and grants and served 300 Michigan-based food businesses since the collaborative’s inception in 2015. Despite this initial success, Michigan Good Food Fund partners recognized the need to anchor its next phase of food investments in community voice and pivot to meet the most pressing needs facing local businesses.

As founding members, we asked ourselves: Are we meeting the needs of those we intend to serve? Are there gaps in our capital product offerings? What is the role of technical assistance? And ultimately, what does success look like for those on the ground leading the charge in their communities?

This reflection set off a year-long journey of listening sessions, working groups, and collaborative co-creation to re-ground this place-based initiative in the vision and priorities of the Michigan entrepreneurs it seeks to support.

As we closed 2021, a new Stakeholder Board was established to define the investment priorities for the Michigan Good Food Fund moving forward. The group sparked thinking about what the future can hold – including ways the collaborative can create greater impact for the state’s mission-led good food businesses with a focus on people who are most often overlooked by traditional investors, particularly people who have been marginalized due to their race, ethnicity and/or gender.

Read on for highlights from a conversation with Jean Chorazyczewski, one of Fair Food Network’s leads on behalf of the Michigan Good Food Fund, who shepherded this work on what we’ve learned, where we’re still learning, and the work ahead.

Why a Stakeholder Board?   

JC: The purpose of our Stakeholder Board is to integrate community input and participation in our work. This group ensures our work going forward addresses—and is held accountable to—community-identified needs. The Stakeholder Board’s role is to co-create Michigan Good Food Fund’s vision of success, set investment policies and priorities, inform strategies, and maintain accountability of the collaborative’s partners to impacted beneficiaries. Stakeholder Board members also help connect the collaborative’s partners to community and entrepreneurial networks across Michigan, ensuring investments respond to community-identified needs.

What did you learn in your listening sessions?

JC: After stepping into administrative management of this initiative in early 2021, Fair Food Network started by deep-dive listening sessions with the collaborative’s existing partners. At the same time, our team organized working groups with a broader network of partners, including entrepreneurs. We wanted to learn their perspectives on three specific topics: Mission and metrics, community voice, and capital and technical assistance providers and offerings.

Our extended conversations raised successes and strengths as well as missteps, gaps, and challenges. It also led to some “ah-ha” moments and planted the seed for broader paradigm shifts. Across discussions, common themes included:


  • Addressing global issues, such as climate change and growing inequity, through food
  • Defining who Michigan Good Food Fund aims to serve and do better in identifying needs in different communities
  • Better connecting business assistance to real capital, especially for businesses owned and operated by people of color
  • Understanding the role of healthy food and how it’s defined in the collaborative moving forward
  • Expanding our reach to food entrepreneurs in every corner of the state

Fair Food Network compiled themes, insights, and recommendations for consideration by an independent Steering Committee. The Steering Committee then nominated candidates for the new Stakeholder Board to take these ideas and chart the course forward for the collaborative.

Who is included in the Stakeholder Board?

JC: Our collective intention was to re-ground this work in community voice by bringing together knowledgeable, representative voices from across Michigan and the food value chain. This meant farmers, local food entrepreneurs, grocers, and community leaders working alongside business assistance and capital providers to chart the work forward and have a shared voice in its work.

What strategic shifts is the Stakeholder Board making? 

JC: The Stakeholder Board developed a new mission, investment policies, impact objectives, and portfolio performance targets that ushered in significant shifts.

This included a commitment to more diverse capital products and a shift from independent
business assistance and capital deployment to integrated and sustained investments. In addition, instead of prioritizing loan readiness and healthy food as primary filters, the collaborative recognized that some projects take years to come to fruition. Michigan Good Food Fund wants to partner with entrepreneurs to co-create outcomes and help them reach their future goals rather than invest solely in what’s happening today.

Finally, the Stakeholder Board elevated an “act local, think global” ethos that reframes local food financing as a tool to address some of the most pressing issues we face globally, including climate change and growing inequalities. We’ve continued to discuss its relevance in the collaborative’s work in 2022.

Fair Food Network serves as both an administrator of the initiative as well as a lender with its Fund. What role can a nonprofit Fund play in this network?  

JC: As a social impact organization, Fair Food Network can focus on mission-aligned investments. This allows us to be more impact-oriented and less beholden to traditional financing structures.

In practice, this means much more creative and catalytic investments. Fair Food Network’s investment can take early action, providing a signaling investment so others can come behind us. We can take bets on “riskier” entrepreneurs when we feel the potential impact is high. We understand the food financing landscape and when there’s a sticking point, and we can work to unlock others’ capital – financing food businesses that may otherwise be declined. As a private impact fund, we’re also not locked into any single capital product. Our Fund aims to start with the entrepreneur’s needs and craft an integrated financial solution that fits their needs.

While our Fund is still growing, we hope this flexibility allows us to break new ground and be an additive partner to the broader community of food lenders and impact investors.

What’s a lesson learned that you’d like to share with others?

JC: Our team learned about the importance of patience in the process. It takes time to engage stakeholders and bring them up to speed on progress and, ultimately, let them decide where success lies. For a can-do organization like Fair Food Network, it was challenging to pause and spend the time it takes to truly listen and learn.

That said, it was well worth it. There is not only empowerment and enthusiasm in engaging the community, but also incredible ideas offered by those proximate to the problem. Our collaborative remains grateful to our partners, work groups, Steering Committee, and Stakeholder Board who invested their time and shared their knowledge to chart a new path forward for the Michigan Good Food Fund.

What would you elevate for a potential funder or investor?

JC: The Stakeholder Board has defined what success looks like and set our vision. A diverse network of partners, including representatives from across the state and various sectors, are now at the table. In addition, more than a dozen groups providing capital to food entrepreneurs in Michigan have signed onto this community-driven collaborative.

The Michigan Good Food Fund is a unique opportunity for funders and investors looking to deploy values-aligned capital, aligned with community-defined priorities and oversight, at scale.

Close Flyout


Orchestrating an Ecosystem

with the emerging Camden Community Food Fund

A white map of New Jersey with a purple dot on Camden

Camden, New Jersey

While 2020 saw the seeding of new work in Camden, 2021 saw it coalesce and root locally.

Camden is a city with strong civic ties and an entrepreneurial spirit. It is home to esteemed universities, hospitals, and corporations and in recent years has seen an influx of new investments and community development.

Despite such assets and the success of the broader Northeast region, Camden’s majority Black and Brown residents have often been left out of the opportunity, wealth, and power surrounding them. 

Local groups recognized that more equitable growth required aligning future investments in the vision, priorities, and entrepreneurialism of its residents.

In 2020, a new collective began to emerge that aimed to do just that. They focused on the food sector, where local businesses are both the backbone of every neighborhood and the key to job creation and healthy food access.

Support for this work was seeded by Campbell Soup Company and the Campbell Soup Foundation, rooted in Camden for over 150 years. We were honored to be invited to support the design phase and initial partnership development leveraging our experience with place-based investment collectives.

2021 saw the coming together of more than a dozen partners including local community development corporations, community engagement groups, Rutgers University-Camden, and The Food Trust among others. It also saw the emergence of the Community Foundation of South Jersey as the local leader to take this effort into implementation. 

2022 will see the establishment of a majority resident Community Board developed through neighborhood-based community engagement. The Board will be responsible for setting the fund’s vision and investment priorities in support of local food businesses. It will also hold community accountability to the work through implementation.

This work is at the intersection of equity and power, modeling how we can better meet local entrepreneurs where they are while also ensuring the flow of capital and investments supports food access alongside racial equity and community self-determination.

What makes this effort stand out is not just its commitment to community voice, but its work to orchestrate an entire ecosystem of partners around community-identified priorities, including for lenders using their own balance sheets.

We look forward to continuing to partner in this innovative collective and support future investments for a more equitable and resilient Camden.

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Fair Food Network


A letter from our CEO

In the midst of turbulent times, finding common ground is more critical than ever. We must continue to strive to bridge gaps and unite around shared goals, even among differing interests and viewpoints.   

Food has always been a unifying force, and at Fair Food Network, we remain focused on our commitment to building community health, wealth, and long-term resilience. Our focus extends beyond mere sustenance; we’re dedicated to fostering vibrant communities and cultivating an approach to food and farming that benefits us all.  

In 2023, we made significant strides by prioritizing collaboration and coalition-building.  

On a national scale, we formed and led a coalition dedicated to expanding the federal government’s commitment to healthy food access as Congress considers an updated Farm Bill. We also continued our partnership in the Nutrition Incentive Hub, where we lead technical assistance activities to advance nutrition incentive and produce prescription programs across the country.

Our ability to be successful in these national systems-change activities is rooted in the success of our Double Up Food Bucks program. This initiative continued to help hundreds of thousands of struggling Michiganders bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables, while also investing in locally owned retail groceries and local farmers markets. 

As administrators of the Michigan Good Food Fund, we continue to collaborate closely with community-driven leaders to support statewide local food and farm entrepreneurs. We recently selected the winners of our inaugural Seed Awards – underlining our commitment to grow Michigan-based food businesses and support the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

We relocated our headquarters from Ann Arbor to Detroit in 2023 and we’ve enjoyed growing deeper connections in the city. While our physical location may have changed, our mission remains constant, as we continue to create positive change in communities across Michigan and the country. 

As we forge ahead, we’re collectively reshaping the flow of resources within the food economy. Your support fuels our belief in a brighter, fairer future through food. Thank you for joining us on this journey. 

Warm regards,

Kate's signature

Kate Krauss

CEO at Fair Food Network

Our Impact by the Numbers

Total hours of technical assistance provided to food businesses and organizations in 2023


Total dollars invested into communities by Fair Food Network

We know that farmers and local food businesses are engines for positive change, so we support and invest in their success. Our work focuses on shifting how essential resources flow through the food economy, building equity in communities across the country.

Group 5646

Dalio Philanthropies is a proud partner of Fair Food Network and shares a mission of supporting nutrition security and healthy food access amongst our most vulnerable populations, especially expecting and new moms. With our partnership and support, Fair Food Network has provided critical resources for fresh, healthy food and elevated awareness around the important role nutrition plays in improving health outcomes for families and young children. Fair Food Network is trailblazing the way for healthier, wealthier, and more resilient families, communities, and food systems.

Dalio Philanthropies

Nutrition incentives

We are advancing our nutrition incentives work in Michigan every day, sharing what we learn with our partners to create similar positive change in communities nationwide.

Trying to eat healthy, local foods costs hundreds of dollars a month no matter where I shop. Not having to worry about this takes so much of the burden off of my plate because otherwise, I would be spending about [as] much as my rent on food, and after that cost I wouldn't normally have much money left over.

Double Up Food Bucks Michigan program participant

By The Numbers: Double Up Michigan

An illustration of some seeds



Combined SNAP & Double Up sales


Pounds of healthy foodpurchased with SNAP & Double Up 


Double Up sites in Michigan (unique sites since 2009) 

Double Up sites in Michigan(unique sites currently participating in DUFB)



Combined SNAP and Double Up sales of fruits and vegetables


Double Up sites, including 113 grocery stores and 124 farmers markets


SNAP households reached


of Michigan's population lives in a county with a Double Up site


Michigan farmers benefited


Amount of produce purchased by independent grocers

I wanted the store to have an impact felt throughout our local community, one that our community as a whole is excited about and carries real and positive change moving into the future.

Mike Hainstock, founder and owner at Lakeshore Depot

Fair Food Fund Financial Overview

Financing Committed

(through Dec. 31, 2023)


Financing Outstanding



Investment Income



Total Investments (Since Inception)


Default Rate (as of Dec. 31, 2023): The annualized default rate since the Fund’s inception (2012) is .64%, or 7.2% cumulatively

Type of Business

Type of Structure

Food is a Pathway to Justice

Today and every day, we are committed to following this path ourselves.


Even as we recognize that food is a unifying element of human life, we can also use it as a lens for seeing injustice and oppression more clearly. Healthy, affordable food isn’t a universally accessible choice. Not every food entrepreneur has had access to traditional financing to support them in growing and serving their community. Instead of perpetuating systems of extraction, exploitation, and structural racism, we strive to model economic belonging, justice, and environmental stewardship. We seek to interrupt unjust historical patterns through our work, augmenting the powerful capacity already present in the communities we serve.


Our Supporters

Our enduring gratitude for our supporters who help make this impact possible. With your partnership, we’re growing a future where everyone has access to healthy food, economic opportunity, and a resilient food and agriculture system. 


Gary Appel 

Kiff Hamp 

Benita Melton 

Kwaku Osei 

Lessa Phillips, MD 

John Stewart 

Dan Warmels, CPA 

W. DeWayne Wells 


Kate Krauss, CEO 

Holly A. Parker, Chief Strategy and Program Officer 

Cassandra Fletcher-Martin, Vice President of Finance 

Kellie Boyd, Vice President of People & Culture 


Aviv Aviad, Managing Director, Cornus Consulting 

Chris Bently, Impact Fund Manager, Serious Change Investments & Sustain VC 

Michael Rozyne, Founder & Evangelist, Red Tomato 

Lisa Sebesta, Founder at Sitari Capital 

Daniel Tellalian, Principal at Angel City Advisors 



Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation 


Bank of America 


Charles Stewart Mott Foundation 


Clif Family Foundation 

Community Foundation of Greater Flint 

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan-New Economy Initiative 

Dalio Philanthropies 

DTE Energy Foundation 

Elmina B. Sewall Foundation 

Ford Motor Company Fund 

J.M. Kaplan Fund 

Kresge Foundation 

Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation 

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) 

Michigan Health Endowment Fund 

Mighty Arrow Family Foundation 

Natural Investments, LLC 

New York State Health Foundation 

Oakland County Health & Human Services 

Oppenheim Family Charitable Fund 

Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation 

Ruth Mott Foundation 

Surdna Foundation 

Swift Foundation 

The Indigo Revocable Trust 

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan 

W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

You Have Our Trust Fund of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation 


$5,000 and above

Robert Dannin and Jolie Stahl Household 

Hamp Family Fund 

Kiff and Nikki Hamp 

Oran Hesterman and Lucinda Kurtz 

Jenifer Martin and Mark Fendrick 

Up to $4,000

Ken Fisher 

Randy and Patty Horton 

David Fukuzawa and Toni Kovach 

TisBest Philanthropy - Anonymous

Pierre Tonachel 

John Stewart and Ramon Torres 

Matt and Sarah Wixson

Up to $2,500

Gary W. Appel and Mimi L. Appel 

Carl Davis

R.A. Dinkel & Associates, Inc.

Judy and Paul Freedman 

Mark Haubert 

Kate Krauss 

Sally Martin 

Jay Rosen 

Dan and Bonnie Warmels 

Up to $1,000

Martha Bashore 

Dean Cady 

Stephanie Doll 

James Ellis 

Naomi Harrison 

Greg and Barbara Houghtaling 

India Foundation 

Leon & Marlene Leonardo Charitable Fund 

Gary McRay 

Lessa Phillips, MD, MPH 

Mike and Susan Stanley 

Megan and Marcus Thygeson 

Joe Turgeon 

Doug Weber 

Jeffrey Yurkanin 

Up to $500


Kellie Boyd 

Timothy Donovan 

Cassandra Fletcher-Martin 

Noah Fulmer 

Iris and David Horner 

Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Ann Arbor 

Janet and Andy Katz 

Thomas Massengale 

Peter and Deb Nathan 

Ricky Norris 

Madeline Smith 

Stephanee Strasburg 

Wilson Taylor 

United Way for Southeastern Michigan 

Tyler Vens 

Up to $100

Cindy Bank 

Jon Biedermann 

Joe and Julie Damore 

Mary Jo Eyster 

Bob Foote 

Kat Forsythe 

Gary & Laura Gallerstein 

Randy and Andrea Gerber 

Jay Gill 

Timothy Gilson 

Laureen Huff 

James Ella James

Rachel Maciejewski 

Andi Nank 

Paulo Neuhaus 

Pamela Ochs-Sandberg 

Kristin Palm 

Katherine Patterson 

Percolator Consulting 

Lisa Pierce 

Bonnie Reece  

Timothy Richards 

Rindy Root-Kolic 

John Roberts 

Jared Sandberg 

Nicki and Nolan Sandberg 

Gail Shumway 

Sarah Spratt  

Barbara Stanford  

Susan Stone 

Bahira Sugarman 

Shane Sullivan  

Sara Wellman 

David Williamson 

Uncommon Charitable Impact 

Suzanne Zelnik Geldys 

Join Us

We believe that when we start with food, so much is possible: collaborative solutions, vibrant communities, and new paths forward. Whether you’re a food entrepreneur, donor, funder, investor, policymaker, frontline practitioner, or another interested collaborator, we’re here to partner with you in creating immediate community impact and long-term systems change.

Join us in our mission to grow community health, wealth, and resiliency through food.

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Thank you to the report's writer, Adam Robson; designers at Loop: Design for Social Good; photography courtesy of Fair Food Network and/or subjects; and cover art by Voodo Fé.