Since 1996 the USDA has been giving small grants ($10k to $400k over 1 to 4 years) to community organizations focused on self-sufficiency and access to healthy, affordable food. The total annual grant expenditure is around $5–8 million of the USDA’s overall annual budget of $120–140 billion. The Community Food Project (CFP) grants are often vital injections of funds and affirmation for innovative, nimble projects that are responding to the nuanced food needs of their communities.
Between 2012 and 2015 I reported on over 50 CFP grant recipient organizations in big cities and tiny towns. In the following series, meet 36 of the people and initiatives making healthy food more accessible to their communities.
I first began reporting on food security in 2010 while traveling cross-country in a short school bus. We were reporting on the American urban farm movement for what would become the 2011 book Breaking Through Concrete (Univ of CA Press). Our reporting overlapped with grassroots initiatives supported by the hunger advocacy non-profit WhyHunger. In 2012 WhyHunger, funded by a grant from the USDA, hired me to document via images and written profiles, some of the many recipients of the CFPs. CFP grants continue to be awarded each year, channeling vital funds into innovative projects as part of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.