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Slow Food USA created the National Resilience Fund to give direct financial support to vital businesses and workers in community-based food systems, through local Slow Food chapters and working groups. We caught up with some of the first and second round grantees, which focused on local community initiatives and black-led initiatives.

How has the National Resilience Fund grant helped advance your goals/how will it help advance your goals in the future?

Linda Kiker, Grow Local Colorado, Denver, Colorado

The National Resilience Fund grant has helped Grow Local Colorado to achieve much during a turbulent 2020 season by increasing our harvests well past the previous year! Additionally, more people are now aware and pitching in to help provide access to fresh local produce. Our first and most consistent partner, Slow Food Denver, was able to engage volunteers for our rapidly and unexpectedly, increased garden spaces. As a result, they were regularly tended, healthy and productive. If not for being able to readily purchase plants, seeds, additional tools, gloves and soil amendments, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that we did. To this date we continue our collaborations and community partnering to extend our reach with our 2021 second annual Earth Day Seed Giveaway, where we share seeds with our community so that they will be inspired and empowered to grow their own food.

Casey Cutler, Good Local Markets, Dallas, Texas

The resilience fund helped us continue our programs at our farmers market locations during the pandemic when our income had dropped and we were not able to fund them ourselves. The funding we received allowed us to continue serving our community without having to worry about how much it cost. We are grateful that Slow Food recognized the importance of farmers markets and our role of providing fresh food to the community.

Linda Behnken, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Sitka, Alaska

We used the National Resilience Fund support to launch a local seafood donation program. Each week we provide seafood to families in need in Sitka. The response to the local program led to a regional effort.  In 2020, we donated over 500,000 seafood meals to families in need, with a focus on Tribal and indigenous communities hard hit by the pandemic.

Gwen Crist, Slow Food Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

A “Seeds and Sheep” program was launched by Utah Diné Bikéyah’s Traditional Foods Program as a way to restore self-sufficient food systems among Native families while using cultural solutions to overcome the pandemic. We sourced drought resilient seeds from local farmers surrounding the Four Corners Region and gifted seed packets to over 500 families including elementary students. Through our fundraising efforts including this grant, we were also able to provide garden tools, irrigation lines and 275-gallon water tanks for Native families interested in restoring their home gardens. In addition, we gifted over 100 Navajo Churro Sheep, 18 impregnated dairy goats and over 1,000 bales of hay to families tending to livestock for the wool economy, cultural use and restoring their food system. Challenges we faced were abiding by the Navajo Nation curfews and weekend lockdowns, along with Ute Mountain Ute tribal protocols during the pandemic. The greatest need among Native communities of San Juan County, Utah was water, as most families still lack access to water. We have been prioritizing access to water among the communities we serve, overall delivered 625 water tanks (171,875 gallons water storage capacity). 

Britt Philyaw, Heard That Foundation, Dallas, Texas

With the support of the National Resilience Fund, Heard That Foundation is supporting The Harvest Project with planting an orchard on their farm, 30 minutes from Downtown Dallas. The farm will be an opportunity to increase sustainable access to healthy food (as the farm grows), for our community to have a hands-on experience growing food and connecting through volunteer and educational farming. HTF has made a children’s book in which all proceeds from sales will go to supporting the farm. In September, we will have a joint fundraising event for the community to sponsor trees to be planted in the orchard. We hope this will continue to grow and add to those doing good work in Dallas to increase food sovereignty and connect with where our food comes from.

Mark Thomas, Garfield Produce Company, Chicago, Illinois

We used the National Resilience Fund to create a refrigerated delivery vehicle for Garfield Produce Company. Inside of a donated van, we built an insulated, food safe storage compartment, accessed by a side door. Refrigeration is provided by an air conditioning unit powered by the van’s electrical system, augmented by a power inverter. The air conditioning unit control was modified to allow temperatures to cool as low as 35 degrees.

The grant allowed us to perform the modifications described above and to create a food safe delivery vehicle for transport of our produce to local area food pantries.  It is critical that the cold chain be maintained from harvest, storage and packing all the way through to customer delivery. This has allowed the food pantry clients to enjoy the freshest produce possible and has enhanced its storage life.

Round Three of our National Resilience Fund is now open, with a focus on the hospitality industry. More info can be found on our website.