According to a new report from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund's Healthy Food & Community Change initiative improved people's access to healthy food, provided meaningful nutrition education, generated food-sector jobs, and successfully leveraged food and food policy tools to strengthen underserved neighborhoods in New York City.
The report, Healthy Food & Community Change Initiative, 2013-2018, notes that the initiative — to which the Illumination Fund committed $15 million over five years in 2013 — focused on two key strategies: developing neighborhood-based initiatives with a holistic approach to community change, and fostering cross-sectoral public-private partnerships. Leveraging those approaches, the initiative focused on addressing three areas: place-based strategies and resident engagement; food as a strategy to provide job opportunities; and food insecurity as a health issue.
As part of its analysis, RPA reviewed grantee reports and interviewed more than twenty-five organizational leaders, academics, and policy makers to assess the impact of the initiative and gain insights about the broader field, both in New York and nationally. Among its findings, the analysis found that the Illumination Fund's partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation resulted in fifty-eight new or improved farmers' markets, farm shares, gardens, and healthy bodegas; the distribution of nearly 1.5 million pounds of healthy food via food pantries, gardens, and farmers' markets; the pre-screening, referral, or enrollment of 4,300 families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; and outreach to more than 46,000 residents.
"We've seen new strategies launched, new players engaged, communities mobilized, programs on many fronts, and new trends emerge," said Illumination Fund executive director Rick Luftglass. "Many of the programs and models in the report provide important learnings for other communities across the U.S. We believe the field is poised for even greater impact and hope that others will build upon this work."