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Announcing the FreshLo Menu: Food, Arts and Culture

Arts & Culture, General Foundation News, Health

An unprecedented approach to strengthening economic vitality, cultural expression and health in low-income communities launched today with The Kresge Foundation’s announcement that 26 organizations across the nation will receive nearly $2 million in grant funding to develop food-oriented initiatives in cities across the nation.

Dubbed “FreshLo” – for “Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization” – the initiative is a joint effort by Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program and Health Program.

A map of Kresge #FreshLo Awardees
Click on map for larger version

Nonprofit organizations and coalitions from across the nation will receive $75,000 planning awards through FreshLo to design neighborhood-scale projects demonstrating creative, cross-sector visions of food-oriented development. Kresge is the first national funder to intentionally and equitably integrate food, art and community to drive neighborhood revitalization at this scale.

“Food and cultural expression are inextricably tied together, and have been throughout history,” said Stacey Barbas, senior program officer with Kresge’s Health Program.  “FreshLo seeks to use that relationship to help local organizations build creative and invigorating pathways to better health and opportunity in urban low-income neighborhoods.”

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More than 500 organizations applied for FreshLo funding – the most applicants for a funding opportunity in The Kresge Foundation’s 92-year history. The overwhelming response resulted in the Foundation funding six more grants than initially planned.

“The response proved there is an incredible reservoir of untapped potential to blend creative expression and healthy food,” said Barbas. “We expect this is the vanguard of a new movement to put a modern spin on the ancient tradition of using food to express community, social cohesion, artistic flair and cultural identity.”

FreshLo embodies The Kresge Foundation’s philosophy that catalytic change to improve opportunity for low-income persons in America’s cities requires a multi-layered approach – not simply one program or sector working alone. By avoiding prescriptive solutions, Kresge has intentionally sought to encourage an expansive, unique and creative suite of proposals through the FreshLo initiative.

“We’ve given our grantees license and encouragement to think and act in new, groundbreaking and even disruptive ways that lift up and celebrate the unique nature of their communities,” said Helen Davis Johnson, program officer with Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program.

The grants will support project management, partnership development, community engagement, strategic communications, policy development and other activities directly related to successful outcomes.

Organizations awarding planning grants to develop food-oriented initiatives in their cities are:

Following the planning grant phase, Kresge intends to offer implementation grants for qualifying projects and conduct a comprehensive suite of learning and evaluation assessments to help measure the impacts of the FreshLo initiative and to export learnings to other organizations and community development professionals.

Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.
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