Most of us do not know where our food comes from. Nor do we understand that its current path from farm to market generates enormous amounts of pollution and consumes massive amounts of energy. Behind this phenomenon is a system of global food business conglomeration that has choked off local supply chains, making it difficult to buy fresh, healthy, sustainably produced local food.  The rise in farmers markets shows that demand for a trusted local and regional food supply is growing, but we need a better food supply system. The Sustainable Environments Program supports efforts to restore regional aggregation and distribution of food that will strengthen urban and rural connections and provide environmental, economic, and community benefits.

What we fund:

We are seeking funding opportunities that:

  • Create pilot projects or expand promising projects to spur the growth of regional food infrastructure (e.g., food hubs, vertical food supply chains, regional food shed planning initiatives linked to regional transportation and economic development).  In addition, we want to support best practices on regional food supply business models and innovative regional, state and local policies. We’re also looking to highlight and help replicate food supply programs that contribute to anti-poverty strategies and build strong local economies.
  • Support the development of innovative financing strategies for regional food infrastructure development.
  • Develop incentives and remove barriers to creating shorter food supply routes.  These activities might include advocacy at the federal, state and local levels around food storage, processing, land-use restrictions, etc.
  • Build capacity and collaboration among planners, economic development officials, investors, community based organizations and other key community leaders to integrate local food supply into regional land use and economic decisions, projects and practices, and to better understand the drivers for regional food system change.

We give preference to efforts that:

  • Engage low-income communities and communities of color in the creation of regional food supplies and ensure they benefit from resulting job creation or economic benefits;
  • Integrate regional food supply chain improvements with other infrastructure needs (e.g., combined transportation and food supply networks, combined green infrastructure and food supply, etc.);
  • Elevate the discussion around food supply and safety, framing it as an infrastructure issue on par with the delivery of water or energy;
  • Engage local communities in the design and implementation of regional food systems;
  • Link food infrastructure development to social enterprise development, procurement policies and purchasing power of anchor institutions (for example, universities and hospitals that purchase food produced regionally);
  • Build learning networks related to regional food supply chain development and food justice.

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying a Surdna Foundation grant, please submit a letter or inquiry by clicking here. Please note: We can only support organizations that meet our guidelines listed under "What we fund."

Note:  The language on this page is an attempt to share our thinking and we recognize that we may not be using the same words and terms as many of you doing the work. We encourage you to use the language and frameworks you have defined for yourself.

Program Related Investments

Surdna's Program Related Investment Fund supports the foundation’s mission by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges.

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Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.