R.I. Food Bank receives $500K grant to address racial disparities in food insecurity

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Community Food Bank recently received a $500,000 grant from Feeding America’s Food Security Equity Impact Fund to help address the root causes of racial disparities regarding food insecurity.

The food bank says the impact fund was created in 2021 and seeded with a $20 million donation from MacKenzie Scott, the former wife of former Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos. The local food bank was one of 10 such food banks across the U.S. to receive more than $4 million from the impact fund.

The funding will support the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp.’s Sankofa Initiative, the food bank said. It is three food and agriculture programs, including a community kitchen and farmers market, that has transformed more than 35,000 square feet of blighted properties into community garden sites that provide space for low-income residents to grow food, many of whom are refugees.

Sankofa, the food bank says, will use the new grant funding to expand its growth with a new greenhouse, renovate its kitchen space to support small-business training, offer workshops and nutrition education to the community, and hire staff to manage the farmers market and gardens.

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“This grant is a game changer for the Sankofa Initiative and for the West End community,” Candace Harper, executive director at the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp., said in a statement. “The funding will allow us to complete work that will expand our reach and enable us to serve more neighbors in need. We’re grateful to the Food Bank for nominating us and to Feeding America for granting us the funds.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette