Capacity-building grants to improve food equity

MADISON, WI, April 14, 2022 – Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin announced today that they have awarded $200,000 in capacity-building grants to four area organizations to increase food equity in our community. The goal of the initiative is to learn from and build long-term racially diverse nutrition distribution strategies as defined by the community to address health disparities and advance food equity.

Michelle Orge, Second Harvest President/CEO speaking at capacity grant press conference
Michelle Orge, Second Harvest President/CEO speaking at capacity grant press conference.

“Everyone in our community should have enough nutritious and culturally meaningful food to thrive,” said Michelle Orge, Second Harvest’s President/CEO. “These grants aim to support programs that increase food equity in communities of Color who disproportionally face food insecurity, and help us learn how to further improve food equity in the future.”

Grant proposals were accepted from February 1, 2022 through March 14, 2022. Proposals for projects ranging from $2,500 – $75,000 were accepted from groups and organizations that met the following criteria:

  • Eligible applicants are designated as a registered 501c3 -or-
  • Organizations, mutual aid groups, collectives, and tribal organizations that are fiscally sponsored by a 501c3 non-profit
  • Projects must support community(ies) within the 16 counties in the Second Harvest service area
  • Efforts should be led by, or conducted in partnership with, racially diverse communities impacted by food insecurity

A total of 36 eligible proposals were received, with funding requests nearing $1.8 million.

Funding for the grants must be used between April, 2022 and June, 2023. Details of the four proposals that will be funded are:

  1. Groundswell Conservancy will receive $7,800 to help create more equitable water access through a water distribution system. This new system will help Hmong growers produce culturally-relevant food for the Hmong and greater community, and help to create land security for growers to advance food sovereignty and food security.
  2. Kennedy Heights Community Center will receive $55,800 to fund a project that will center healthy, delicious, and culturally relevant food across all of their programs. They will begin a Resident Advisory Committee, revitalize their Community Garden space, and start a cooking club focused on sharing food traditions.
  3. REAP Food Group along with Roots4Change will receive $61,441 to help fund their Farm to Families program that highlights food preparation centering on cultural pathways, purchasing food from female and BIPOC growers, and the creation of a co-learning space related to cooking, breastfeeding, and food policy.
  4. The Hmong Institute will receive $75,000 to support their Food Care Box Program-access new products that are culturally relevant, address policy gaps in local food pantries, and support families currently on a waitlist.

The four proposals that were selected emphasize the following:

  • Strategies that advance culturally meaningful foods distribution
  • Testing food access entry points for racially diverse communities
  • Community centered priorities and solutions with racially diverse leadership and partners
  • Centering/Leveraging community assets and fostering authentic relationships

About Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin
Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin began working with local hunger-relief agencies in 1986. It helps end hunger in 16 southwestern Wisconsin counties through food distribution to its partner agencies, promotion of outside food assistance programs like FoodShare, and raising awareness of hunger. As southwestern Wisconsin’s largest hunger-relief charity it meets nearly one million requests for help each year. From July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 Second Harvest, together with its partner agencies and programs, provided 19 million meals.  It is one of 200 members of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. For more information, visit