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Funding Your Food Day Project in 2013 and Beyond

Now is the time to start thinking about how you can hold your biggest and best Food Day event to date, which means looking for ways to make Food Day financially sustainable. Funding can come from a variety of sources, including grants and in-kind donations. Many organizers are able to make a real impact in their communities with very low-budget activities but the more resources you secure early in the planning process, the more powerful your events will be.

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2nd Annual Savannah Food Day Festival, which attracts over 10,000 people each year. Photo: Jamie Weaver

Food Day is a year-round campaign. Part of our mission is to provide a national platform for the work that organizers are doing on a local level even if it doesn’t take place on or around October 24. Why not seek funding to promote your organization’s goals and use Food Day as an opportunity to highlight the work you do all year?

For ongoing projects and year-round collaborations that lead to lasting change, organizations often need external sources of funding.  For some places to start with federal and local funding opportunities, please check out the following links:

  • USDA’s searchable database of federal grants lists funding opportunities related to food and agriculture.
  • Community Commons maps community-focused sustainability and health initiatives. The site provides search functions for finding funders in a specific region, as well as narrowing down the focus area or strategy of an initiative.
  • Foundation Finder provides good general resources for individuals and organizations seeking grants, as well as an extensive list of foundations across the United States searchable by name and geographic location. Like Community Commons, it is not focused specifically on food-related grants but can be a good starting point for your research.
  • Community Transformation Grants (CTGs) are federal grants administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to dozens of state, regional, and local organizations to address the causes of chronic disease. One of the focus areas for the grant is healthy eating and active living.  Check the list to see if community partners in your area received this federal money, and investigate potential collaborations.sodexofoundation.jpg

The Food Day team is doing our own research to try to help coordinators find funding. We will keep you informed about new granting opportunities throughout the year. At this time, we are helping to promote a grant offered by Food Day partners Youth Service America and Sodexo Foundation. These two organizations are calling on young people to join the fight to end childhood hunger. Grants of $500 are available for youth ages 5-25 that live in the U.S. for projects to take place on or around Global Youth Services Day, April 26-28, 2013. Deadline for application is January 31, 2013. Find out more here: http://www.ysa.org/grants/sodexoyouth. In step 5 of the application (“If you are affiliated with a YSA partner, and received a partner grant application code, please enter it here”) all applicants should enter the code “FoodDay”.

Despite the many funding options that exist, you don’t necessarily need to focus your energy on finding and applying to grants in order to have a successful Food Day event. Companies, both local and national, can help you to achieve your goals in the community with in-kind donations or awards.  

If it’s helpful, sketch out a general plan and timeline for your Food Day activity with your collaborators and then make a list of potential local sponsors including restaurants, healthcare organizations, universities, media outlets, and others.  Then create a “sponsorship kit” with information about Food Day, your proposed ideas and collaborators, and visit your targets to “pitch” it to them.  You might focus especially on securing media sponsors so you will have a little bit of guaranteed publicity. Include any pictures from previous Food Day celebrations, quotes from those involved, and positive new developments that Food Day has brought to the community.

For more ideas on fundraising, you can revisit our webinar on fundraising from last fall.  In the webinar, Rene Teran, who has organized a massive Food Day festival in Savannah, Georgia, for two consecutive years, explains how he created his own sponsorship kit and approached fiscal and media sponsors to fund his event. Also see our template for Letters of Inquiry to foundations.

As always, we’re here to support you during the process.  Give us a call or shoot an email to foodday@cspinet.org if you already have an idea for your Food Day celebrations but need assistance finding or applying to specific grants.

Have a happy and healthy new year, everyone!


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