Ideas and Impact

Funding the Foodshed

This analysis explores the state of philanthropic food funding in the Chesapeake region and highlights trends, gaps, and actionable opportunities for funders.

While philanthropy has played a key role in building the regional Chesapeake food system, philanthropic support alone is insufficient to solve the system’s challenges. In this report, Arabella outlines how funders should use their influence to coordinate funding from philanthropy, government, and corporate sources. This report builds on Arabella’s 2016 Good Food For All report, which identified three strategies to help funders address the challenges of the Chesapeake food system: 1) promote social equity and food access, 2) advance environmental sustainability, and 3) scale the regional food economy. In the report, we explore how and why funders are supporting these priorities.

We began our analysis by reviewing 23 survey responses from a diverse group of family, institutional, community, and corporate foundations, as well as one donor-advised fund and one public charity. We then conducted 16 interviews with cross-sector funders who support food-related programs, and we supplemented these findings with further research on the region’s current needs and sources of funding. 

Ultimately, we discuss four strategies for funders seeking to foster an equitable regional food system: 1) develop a compelling narrative, 2) strengthen the capacity for regional funder coordination, 3) build bridges with funders from outside the regional food funding community, and 4) look beyond philanthropy.

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