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Food Access and Security Initiative

Food Access and Security Initiative2023-11-07T15:04:04+00:00

Photo of a food pantry line by lou jones.

The Cambridge Community Foundation is committed to thinking big and pursuing bold, innovative ideas to solve our city’s most pressing problems. In October 2023, we announced our new strategic direction for making a greater impact in the community. The new Food Access and Security Initiative, our first step, aims to build a safety net for families in crisis by strengthening Cambridge’s emergency food system.


The Food Access and Security Initiative is driven by the Foundation’s commitment to social equity, and grounded in our ever-growing understanding that food insecurity is a critical obstacle that intersects with income disparity, financial and economic uncertainty, racial inequity, and other complex issues. With 1 in 8 Cambridge residents experiencing food insecurity as of 2021, complex issues require thoughtful, strategic solutions.

The Initiative will invest in nonprofit organizations and collaborative efforts to improve and make changes to the Cambridge food system. CCF has a history of addressing food access and security. This new Initiative builds on past work and focuses on sector communication and collaboration, program sustainability and expansion, and capacity building.

Join us! For information on how you can support Cambridge through the Food Access and Security Initiative, please contact Michal Rubin, Vice President of Development at [email protected].

Inaugural Grantees

On October 14, 2023, CCF announced an investment of $1,122,000 in partnership with seven local nonprofits.

“In Cambridge, a city with so much prosperity, no one should go hungry and yet many of our families are making hard decisions about where to put their dollars as they meet basic needs,” said Geeta Pradhan, president of the Cambridge Community Foundation. “Food insecurity is a huge problem today. But by drawing on data, building on our past investments, connecting and collaborating with food security nonprofits, and garnering the support of local donors, we can solve food insecurity in Cambridge. This way of working captures the innovative spirit of Cambridge.”

Eight grants totaling $946,000, funded through the Initiative, will enable projects carried out by the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC), CEOC (Food Pantry Network), Daily Table, East End House, Food for Free, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, Mass Farmer’s Market, and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. In addition, $20,000 was allocated to enhance the SNAP match program in Cambridge and Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House received $156,000 in infrastructure support made possible with grant funds from Massachusetts CDBG CV (CARES ACT) in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC).

The grants, most of which provide three years of funding, will support sector communication and collaboration, program sustainability and expansion, and capacity building. Organizations will work collectively to increase access to food that is healthy, culturally appropriate, and offered with dignity; create a stronger, sustainable food pantry network through investments in infrastructure, staffing and volunteer capacity, and expand and diversify food programs, farmer’s markets, food rescue efforts. The organizations were selected by an advisory council that includes experts in food security and individuals with lived experience. In addition to grantmaking, the Foundation’s role is to align ongoing efforts so that the Cambridge emergency food system is stronger and more efficient.

Read more in our press release about this initial investment from our Food Access and Security Initiative.


The application period for this Initiative has passed. You may still find information on eligibility requirements below.

When does the Food Access and Security Initiative grant cycle take place?2023-10-17T18:21:36+00:00

Starting July 14, 2023, interested organizations submitted a Letter of Interest to the Foundation’s Food Access and Security Initiative. All applicants were notified whether or not they had been invited to submit a full application by August 18, 2023. Final grant decisions were announced in October. Please note that not all organizations that submit a Letter of Interest will be invited to submit a complete proposal and an invitation to submit a full proposal does not imply a guarantee of funding.

Who is eligible to apply for the Food Access and Security Initiative?2023-07-14T13:41:36+00:00

The Food Access and Security Initiative seeks to fund projects that answer the question: how can we strengthen the emergency food system?

Within this scope, the Foundation is prioritizing three funding areas:

  • Sector communication and collaboration
  • Program sustainability and expansion
  • Capacity building

Additionally, projects must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Established organizations that have been in existence for at least two years.
  • Organizations and projects that serve Cambridge and those that live in or rely on Cambridge.
  • Organizations with 501(c)3 status or a fiscal sponsor
Can I apply to the Food Access and Security Initiative and the Community Fund?2023-07-13T16:25:26+00:00

The Community Fund is the Foundation’s competitive twice-yearly grant cycle that provides one-year responsive grants to nonprofit organizations. The Food Security and Access Initiative supports multi-year requests focusing on collective impact and systems change in the Cambridge food system.

Eligible organizations may apply for both Community Fund and the Food Access and Security Initiative. However, organizations that are awarded an Initiative grant CANNOT apply to the Community Fund with the same project or proposal.

Which grant program could/should my organization apply for?2023-07-13T16:27:26+00:00

Organizations may seek funding from both the Community Fund and the Food Access and Security Initiative. However, the same program or project cannot be funded through both programs. Organizations who are selected for Food Access and Security Initiative grants may only apply to the Community Fund for a different program or project.

My organization.. Food Access and Security Initiative Community Fund
Uses funding to benefit the Cambridge community x x
Has 501c3 status, or is under fiscal sponsorship of a 501c3 entity x x
Seeks funding to… effect transformational change, addressing the Cambridge emergency food system respond to other community needs
Seeks funding for… one to three years one year

Applicants not selected for a Food Access and Security Initiative grant are eligible to submit their application to the Community Fund (which accepts proposals for its Fall cycle from August 25 to September 25).

Who do I contact for more information?2023-07-26T16:32:18+00:00

Please email [email protected].

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