The City of Sacramento this week announced $1 million in new grants for food pantries, hot meal deliveries, and other programs to ensure everyone has access to healthy food.
Seventeen organizations received awards ranging from $5,000 to $200,000 from the City’s share of American Rescue Plan relief dollars. The recipients were announced Tuesday by Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Councilmember Mai Vang.
“These are worthy community organizations that will put dollars out to work helping people who need it most,” Steinberg said.
The Office of Innovation and Economic Development received more than $5 million in applications for the $1 million available. Awardees were chosen by a five-person review panel that included three community members and two City employees.
Julie Rhoten, executive director of Stanford Settlement, one of the awardees, cited a significant number of people who need help in Sacramento — a need that skyrocketed during the pandemic.
“People are really struggling, and being able to provide emergency food assistance to people in our community means they can be strategic about spending the limited resources they have, so they can keep the heat on, they can keep the lights on,” she said.
Fifteen of the 17 grants awarded will go toward expanding existing food pantries or food distribution efforts, many in an innovative way. Hmong Youth and Parents United is combining fresh produce distribution with an educational garden project. The Health Education Council is specifically focused on Afghan refugees, while Meals on Wheels is focused on seniors in congregate settings.
Vang and Steinberg’s teams met monthly for six months via Zoom with residents and local leaders to better understand the need in the community and to develop the grant priorities to address the highest needs.
“The two priorities that rose to the top were one: making sure we that we increase access points to healthy food in low-income and underserved communities; and two: making sure we invest in our food economy,” Vang said.
The Food Justice grants program is one of the first in the city to fully utilize the racial-equity tool kit adopted by the City Council’s Racial Equity Committee, co-chaired by Vang and Steinberg, to make sure expenditures with federal COVID relief funds were distributed with a particular emphasis on underserved communities.
In the coming weeks, the organizations will work with the Office of Innovation and Economic Development to receive their grant funding, with most programs kicking off in January.