AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Food Justice Mini Grants program awarded $75,000 in grants to 25 organizations leading change in Austin’s local food system, according to a City press release.
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability launched the grant program in 2020 to provide $3,000 in funding to projects addressing food-related inequalities in the community. These organizations were selected by an evaluation committee of both City staff and community members.
One grant recipient, Aleph Cooking, is combating food insecurity by redistributing food that may have otherwise been wasted through a “free-fridge” project.
The fridge will feed the unhoused population near Republic Square. While community members are encouraged to donate food items, the grant funds will help to maintain and restock the fridge
A contributing factor to food insecurity is the prevalence of “food deserts” in low-income neighborhoods.
Austin has 33 food deserts as classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where at least 33% of residents live half a mile or more from a grocery store. In these areas, Dollar-Trees, fast food restaurants or gas stations may be the only nearest food sources.
Part of the grant program’s mission involves bolstering “food sovereignty” or “the right of communities to define their own food and agriculture systems,” according to the Food Justice Mini Grant webpage.
Only about 0.06% of food consumed in Travis County is produced locally, while the vast majority of food consumed in Austin is produced in other areas and transported. This means food is less fresh and distribution is subject to supply chain disturbances.
Kalpulli Texas Quetzalcoatl will use grant fund to host an event on native food systems. The organization plants fruit trees and educates community members on plant-based food options.
“As an indigenous-led organization, we understand clearly the effects of colonization on our spiritual traditions,” said Maribel Falcon, who runs Administrative Support for Kalpulli Texas Quetzalcoatl. “Many of us remember how our grandparents used certain plants for certain ailments. Together we share this knowledge and reclaim these practices.”
In summer 2023, the organizations will report back on the full impact of their projects.
The complete list of grant recipients includes:
- Aleph Cookery
- Austin Chinese-American Network
- Austin Mutual Aid
- Austin Youth River Watch
- Black Trans Leadership of Austin
- Carol’s Kindness
- Community Coalition for Health
- Community Garage Sale
- Del Valle Community Coalition
- El Buen Samaritano
- Equidad ATX
- Good Work Austin
- Govalle Elementary School, Austin ISD
- Hill Country Community Ministries
- Ojeda Middle School, Del Valle ISD
- Kalpulli Texas Quetzalcoatl
- Multicultural Refugee Coalition
- Out Youth
- Partners for Education, Agriculture, and Sustainability (PEAS)
- Progressive I.M.P.a.C.C.C.T
- Rural Mutual Aid
- Socially Immersed
- Walking by Faith Prison Ministry
For more information about the grant and how to apply, you can check here.
You can learn more about last year’s grant recipients and their impact here.