Indianapolis (May 10, 2023) – With funding through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, LISC Indianapolis awarded more than $1.1M in total grant funding to nine food-related community organizations in the Northeast Corridor of Indianapolis through the Equitable Food Access Initiative. The funds will be used to address food access, improve food security, strengthen the local food economy, and improve the health of residents.
The Equitable Food Access Initiative is a community-based planning and implementation process that convenes residents, community leaders, subject matter experts and civic organizations to develop a vision of equitable food access. Through this partnership, LISC has driven collaboration between place-based and citywide stakeholders to increase healthy food access by addressing the upstream contributors to food insecurity.
In 2021, the Northeast Corridor was selected as the first community for investment. These selected projects address one or more of the four focus areas: food access, food economy, food security, and food systems.
The following organizations were selected to receive funds:
Mackida Loveal & Trip Mentoring Outreach Center: $177,320
MLT is a critical service center that supports youth in e-learning, mentoring, employment and empowerment. MLT's community garden project not only provides healthy vegetables to residents, but strengthens the food ecosystem in the Northeast Corridor by increasing equitable food access in the community, scaling productions, offering more efficient ways to distribute food, improving mental and physical health, and empowering youth.
The Elephant Gardens: $177,293
Elephant Gardens is a family owned and operated community urban garden located within the Northeast Corridor. With partners, they launched the ABC’s of Sustainability Program, a “wrap-around” project involving every aspect of the Food Value Chain, from production and procurement, aggregation and processing, to cooking and composting. By mentoring, educating, and training community members, the organization “grows growers”, beautifies the community, increases healthy food production and access, encourages and guides participants to adopt healthier eating habits, and creates jobs.
Market@Monon30 is a neighborhood fresh food market that will offer nourishing, affordable and suitable foods and goods to the Northeast Corridor. The organization will engage neighborhood residents in scheduled programming promoting healthy food choices including workshops, interactive demonstrations, after-school cooking programs, speaker events and neighborhood gatherings. In addition, Market@Monon30 will work with IPS schools and Ivy Tech to develop a co-operative food system employment program for high school age residents and develop afterschool employment job-sharing opportunities.
GEO Next Generation High School: $159,689.50
GEO is a free, public charter high school that is launching the Fertile Grounds program, a 21st century modern urban farm that will offer students credit-earning curricular experiences for learning sustainable farming practices in urban settings. The mission of the program is to increase food access for students and community, build an urban farming talent pipeline, reduce food insecurity, and build a more enhanced food system.
New Direction Church: $159,366
New Direction Church will expand its established food access services by formalizing partnerships and strengthening infrastructure to better serve the growing need in the Northeast Corridor. The pantry plans to increase the community members served by 250% over the grant period by increasing the pantry hours, expanding capacity for food storage, adding delivery services, and improving pantry operations.
From the Ground Up: $148,265.50
From the Ground Up Foods supports the Plant to Plate Project farm operations, financial and business operations support, farm maintenance, and educational programming. Through collaboration with local stakeholders, From the Ground Up Foods increases education opportunities in urban farming by partnering with local schools and organizations to build the food industry talent pipeline. The organization directly impacts the local food economy by increasing talent and workforce development and production distribution.
It Could Have Been Me: $100,000
It Could Have Been Me is a charitable organization that has been active in the Northeast Corridor for more than 20 years, providing resources for food, housing, transportation, and mentorship programming. They are expanding services to build capacity and serve various areas of the food system including gardening plots, preservation, dehydration and canning classes, cooking demonstrations, and farmers markets.
Faith, Hope and Love Community: $50,000
Faith, Hope and Love Community aims to be a catalyst for change by engaging in relationships with food insecure neighbors on their path to self-sufficiency through missional food pantry training. The organization provides three signature programs: Missional Food Pantry (a workshop series that teaches the fundamentals of operating a missional food pantry); Beyond This Hunger (a 16-lesson ‘train the trainer’ workshop); and United Food Missions (charitable food delivery model in partnership with DoorDash).
EatHere is a social engagement marketplace for discovering and purchasing local food and beverage brands. The platform aggregates content from social networks, news publications, and blogs to make it easy for users to find and share information about local food. The organization aims to diversify and improve the local food economy, increase food access and security, and enhance overall resident health.
For additional information on the Equitable Food Access Initiative, including how these funds will be used, please visit www.equitablefoodaccess.org.
Megan Bulla, LISC Indianapolis
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis is the local office of a national organization that helps resident-led, community-based development organizations transform distressed communities and neighborhoods into healthy ones — good places to live, do business, work, and raise families. By providing capital, technical expertise, training, and information, LISC supports the development of local leadership and the creation of affordable housing; commercial, industrial, and community facilities; businesses; and jobs. In short, we help neighbors build communities.