The board of directors of the Zilber Family Foundation has awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant to Fondy Food Center in efforts to connect the Lindsay Heights neighborhood and Central City Milwaukee to fresh, locally-grown food on a larger scale.
Fondy Food Center is one of eight Milwaukee nonprofits receiving grants totaling $700,000 after the fall meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
The award will assist the nonprofit Fondy Food Center, 2347 W. Fond du Lac Ave., in deepening its leadership role in the transformation of Milwaukee’s local food system, particularly in Central City and North Side neighborhoods where continued lack of access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables remains an ongoing concern.
“Like many urban communities, Lindsay Heights has a disproportionate number of fast-food and convenience store outlets in relation to healthy food retailers,” said Susan Lloyd, executive director of the Zilber Family Foundation. “Neighborhood anchors like the Fondy Food Center are instrumental in making the healthy choice the easy choice.”
In 2013, the open-air Fondy Farmers Market provided access to healthy foods to more than 40,000 customers. More than 80% of customers come from zip codes 53205, 52306 and 53212, areas among the highest concentrations of poverty in Milwaukee. The Market, which accepts EBT (food stamp) SNAP cards, Senior and WIC farmers market nutrition vouchers, consistently ranks among the top five farmers markets in the country for EBT sales, and is the only Wisconsin farmers market that doubles the value of WIC vouchers. Fondy’s food stamp sales in 2013 were $51,000.
Zilber grant funds will be used to support the organization’s general operating expenses, including those related to developing a comprehensive three-year strategic plan and an updated communications platform.
“The strategic plan will create pathways to build stronger alliances with neighborhood nonprofits, residents, businesses and farmers,” said Young Kim, executive director of the Fondy Food Center. “We also aim to expand existing partnerships with Walnut Way Conservation Corp. and Alice’s Garden to sell fresh produce in Lindsay Heights corner stores and support young people who are interested in pursuing organic farming and food-related businesses. These partnerships are what truly transform local food systems.”
The grant will also support Fondy’s Farm Project, an 80-acre farm in Port Washington that provides low-income, mostly Hmong, farmers with long-term leases to high-quality farmland at a price they can afford, along with the business support they need to succeed. Although nearly all of the food harvested at the Farm is sold at the Fondy Farmers Market, the strategic plan will explore ways to increase wholesale fruit and vegetable sales to Milwaukee grocery stores and restaurants.
The Zilber Family Foundation grant is part of a larger strategy to increase access to healthy food in Lindsay Heights. Community members identified healthy food as a high priority in 2008 when the Foundation launched the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, a 10-year $50 million commitment to improving quality of life in three Milwaukee neighborhoods.