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Resident Association in Englewood partners with Whole Cities Foundation to increase healthy food access

Foundation awards grants to Englewood organizations increasing access to nutritious food

Six organizations with healthy food programs in Chicago’s Greater Englewood neighborhood have been awarded a grant of up to $8,000 from Whole Cities Foundation. Whole Cities Foundation, a nonprofit established by Whole Foods Market, partners with communities nationwide to improve community health through broadening access to fresh food and nutrition information.

“At Whole Cities we have a big vision for a nation where fresh, healthy food access and high quality nutrition information are available to everyone, no matter what your zip code,” says Executive Director, Meredith Smith. “We build partnerships with community-based, grassroots organizations that are improving health and food access in their own neighborhoods.”

The foundation teamed up with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), a grassroots organization that addresses community needs and creates tangible solutions, to design a grant program that extends the reach of neighborhood food access projects and fully engaged the community throughout the process.  Community-led organizations presented their food access projects to neighborhood residents, and the Greater Englewood community voted on which projects would be funded. 

Asiaha Butler, R.A.G.E. co-Founder and President, says, “Our association truly enjoyed creating this voting process, because the community had the opportunity to make the decision on who would be awarded the Whole Cities Foundation grant, which is not the typical process. The residents felt empowered that their voice was heard and honored. We look forward to future partnerships with this foundation and others who want to fund in an innovative way.”

The grant is one iteration of the Whole Foods Market’s “Community First” value, which puts the community at the forefront.

Sixteen groups applied for the grant in July. Putting the community at the center of the decision-making, R.A.G.E. assembled a Task Force of nine Englewood leaders to steer an innovative community voting process. Nine applicants were selected to move forward as finalists and participated in the community vote, bringing visibility to the fabulous work Englewood is doing for Englewood.  Finalists were determined by the sustainability of their projects and their alignment with the foundation’s mission. Throughout August, residents of Greater Englewood were able to vote for their favorite neighborhood revitalization project.

On Saturday, August 20th, the groups presented their food access initiatives at “So Fresh Saturday”; the summer park festival hosted by R.A.G.E., and had the opportunity to speak to over 1,000 residents about their projects aimed at building community and health. Residents decided on five finalists to receive the grant and a sixth were added, due to a very close vote. 

The following six projects were selected for funding:

Whole Cities Foundation and R.A.G.E. announced the grant awards at the Whole Foods Market store opening in Englewood on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.

This grant was made possible by the generous donations of the following Whole Cities Foundation sponsors: Annie’s, Grimmway Farms and Stonyfield.