USDA announces four year award, strengthening Sacramento community organizations in fight against food insecurity and inequality
Federal dollars will help make Sacramento America’s Farm-to-EVERY-Fork Capital.
October 14, Sacramento, California
The USDA has announced that a collaborative effort among Sacramento organizations will receive $390,213 over four years from the Community Food Projects Program. The partnership between Alchemist Community Development Corporation (CDC), Food Literacy Center, and Sacramento Food Policy Council will work to address the ongoing issues of food insecurity, economic inequality, and childhood obesity. This work is supported by Community Foods Project [grant no. 2020-33800-33136/project accession no. 1024412] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Despite its status as the nation’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, one in six Sacramento County residents lacks reliable access to food. The underlying problem is not one of supply. Sacramento sits on the northern end of California’s Central Valley, which produces a quarter of the nation’s food. Amidst this bounty, many Sacramentans face barriers in accessing and affording nutritious food.
Alchemist CDC addresses these issues through three complementary programs. By providing CalFresh access at regional farmers’ markets, Alchemist makes it possible for residents living on low-income to use their nutrition assistance benefits to purchase quality food from local farmers. Market Match dollars help stretch those tight grocery budgets and incentivize the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. Recognizing that food insecurity is rooted in economic issues, the Alchemist Kitchen program provides low-income and under-resourced entrepreneurs with resources and training to become successful food business owners. Alchemist is also known for helping neighborhoods and communities to convert blight and under-used vacant lots into parks and community gardens which provide residents with the opportunity to grow their own food.
“This support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture will do so much to empower our collaborative work in addressing both the symptoms and the causes of food insecurity in the Sacramento region,” notes Sam Greenlee, Executive Director of Alchemist CDC.
The Food Literacy Center’s mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. For nearly a decade, this nonprofit has changed kids’ attitudes and behaviors towards healthy food by engaging them in hands-on cooking and nutrition classes throughout South Sacramento. Food Literacy Center teaches cooking and nutrition to elementary aged children, primarily in schools with higher levels of poverty. Classes encourage children to develop the habits of eating and enjoying their vegetables, helping to ensure the popularity of school salad bars and establishing health-promoting practices for life.
“This four-year funding opportunity allows our good work to continue and expand,” says Amber Stott, Food Literacy Center’s founder and executive director. “By partnering with fellow nonprofits, we can strengthen the local food system throughout our community both inside and outside the classroom. This takes our programs collectively to a higher level.”
The Sacramento Food Policy Council (SFPC) aims to propel collective action toward an equitable and sustainable food system by building alignment, advancing policies, and convening advocates, policymakers, and organizations around a shared agenda. Their work addresses existing inequities along lines of race and class in Sacramento’s food system and neighborhoods by advancing policies that create system wide change. With funding support from the USDA Community Food Projects grant, SFPC will deepen work on the Sacramento Food System Assessment and Partnership Project, a 2 year collaborative planning project to understand barriers and identify opportunities to prosperity at each level of the food system. SFPC advocacy was critical in the adoption of the Environmental Justice Element into Sacramento County’s general plan, making the county one of the first in the state to adopt the element following the passage of SB-1000.
“Sacramento is ready to develop food systems policies that not only expand food access and resilient farming” says Brenda Ruiz, Sacramento Food Policy Council President, “but also center equity and justice. This grant award deepens our capacity to meaningfully engage in this challenging, high impact work.”
Together, these organizations will put the USDA grant to work with a comprehensive strategy for addressing food insecurity and its damaging effects. From increasing access to nutritious food to improving children’s food literacy to conducting an in-depth food system assessment, this collaboration will help Sacramento to become the farm-to-every-fork capital.
Name of Press Contact (Alchemist CDC): Sam Greenlee, Executive Director
Name of Press Contact (Food Literacy Center): Amber Stott
Name of Press Contact (Sacramento Food Policy Council): Brenda Ruiz
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.