June 20, 2024

Community Partners Advances Trust-Based, Equity-Centered Solutions:
The LA Food Equity Fund

Celebrating LA Food Equity Fund’s Changemakers and Partners

On May 30, Community Partners hosted a celebration to honor the transformative impact of local organizations working to advance food equity in Los Angeles County. The event took place in Compton at grantee partner’s Alma Backyard Farms, where raised vegetable beds were bursting with new growth and jar-filled farmstands showcased the abundance of past harvests.

Against this backdrop of a flourishing urban farm, leaders from community-based organizations who recently received grants through the LA Food Equity Fund gathered to build connections, share their journeys and passion, and celebrate their collective vision for a healthy future where all communities have access to quality, affordable food. They were joined by cross-sector partners and supporters from philanthropy and government who are championing community-led food equity solutions.

Growing Impact with Access to Critical Resources
Community Partners team members at the celebration at Alma Backyard Farms on May 30. Photo credit: Los Angeles County

As the nonprofit intermediary for the LA Food Equity Fund, Community Partners helped ensure that community-based organizations, small businesses, and faith-based groups, especially those serving communities that have faced systemic oppression and underinvestment, could apply for and access critical federal funds. In partnership with Los Angeles County’s Chief Sustainability Office, we distributed grants to 46 innovative organizations totaling $9.8 million to fuel community-led solutions to the challenges of food insecurity.

We’re proud to work with public sector agencies and funders who share our commitment to equity-centered grantmaking and trust us to design new ways of amplifying community leadership. These strategic investments were guided by the ambitious recommendations of the Los Angeles Food Equity Roundtable, a coalition of government, philanthropy, and community-based organizations, dedicated to advancing food justice and transforming our region’s food system.

Centering Equity in Grantmaking

Our intermediary team leveraged our extensive experience, long-standing partnerships, and deep community ties to design and implement a collaborative, flexible, and inclusive grants program that was rooted in trust. Our equitable approach included streamlining processes, simplifying requirements, creating open channels for communication, and ensuring materials were language inclusive and accessible. Along the way, we responded promptly to grantee partners’ requests, integrated their wisdom and expertise into the process, and shared our knowledge and resources to strengthen their internal capacity.

“Often, through our intermediary work, grantee partners are receiving their first sizeable investment from government or philanthropy. The LA Food Equity Fund, just like our other collaborative initiatives, is an opportunity to set the tone for what’s possible when trust, equity, and community-led solutions are centered in accessing critical funding to mobilize change and advance justice and health in our communities,” shared Phyllis Owens, Vice President, Intermediary and Strategic Partnerships.

Owens added, “Our goal is to ensure that organizations of all sizes, especially smaller nonprofits and those led by BIPOC leaders, can scale their impact without being hindered by systemic inequities. Our unique approach aims to strengthen organizations and rebuild trust at a deeper level across sectors, systems, and communities.”

Changemakers in Action: Building A Resilient and Equitable Food System in Los Angeles

The grants support diverse initiatives that aim to strengthen food systems and drive sustainable food production, promote food access, advance nutrition education, and increase benefits enrollment. For example, Alma Backyard Farms will use urban agriculture to foster community-building initiatives in Compton, while The Lancaster Homeless Group’s: (DBA The Street Company) will build on their coffee enterprise to launch indoor hydroponic farming to provide employment and fresh produce for people experiencing homelessness in Lancaster. Other projects include Special Services for Groups/Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement creating distribution hubs for small local farmers and developing community gardens and MEND – Meet Each Need with Dignity addressing food insecurity by distributing more than three million pounds of food. Additionally, benefits enrollment grants aim to increase applications for government food assistance programs, addressing the gap of 322,000 eligible but non-receiving residents in LA County.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with the LA County Food Equity Roundtable and other local community based organizations to cultivate a healthy, resilient, and equitable regional food ecosystem that serves and honors the needs of the most vulnerable community members,” shared Kyle Tsukahira & Heng Lam Foong, Co-Directors, Asian Pacific Islander Forward Movement.

The LA Food Equity Fund serves as just one example of Community Partners’ dedication to strengthening equity in communities. Being an effective steward of resources on behalf of funding partners goes beyond ensuring sound fiscal management and accountability. For us, it’s also about developing processes and practices that strengthen organizations and communities by removing barriers, sharing expertise, and forging new pathways for partnership and collaboration to advance health, justice, and healing.

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