Anthem, LISC Indianapolis announce ‘life changing’ grant to increase neighborhood food access

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INDIANAPOLIS – There’s a major effort happening now to bring healthy food to neighborhoods that don’t have those options.

“We need access to food and to healthy food,” said Councilor La Keisha Jackson, District 14.

Jackson has seen firsthand how the lack of food can create disparities. She represents the Far East Side of Indianapolis and it’s why she’s advocating for change. Jackson plans to apply for the Equitable Food Systems in Indianapolis Neighborhoods Grant. It’s a $2.45 million effort that she says would be life altering.

“We deserve those things,” Jackson explained, “We need those things in our communities.”

The grant comes from the LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) and the Anthem Foundation.

Neighborhoods will apply by submitting plans on how to tackle food insecurity like creating community kitchens, support for farmers and grocery or mobile markets.

“We will be providing data experts and food experts to support the process and development of this plan,” said Program Officer, Shelbi Cummings, “To help residents put together a plan and community stakeholders to plan how do they improve food access and food security by addressing an entire food ecosystem within their geography of choice.”

She explained that 23 out of the 36 Indianapolis ZIP codes are experiencing poverty at a higher rate than the national average.

“As of 2019, one fifth of residents in Indianapolis live in a food desert. Some of the communities that are in greatest need,” said Cummings.

There’s an initiative advisory that will help decide which neighborhood will be selected for the grant money. Only one community will be chosen for this first project. The advisory is made up of food and program officers and also some social determinant leaders who will evaluate the proposals to identify what promise there is to complete the project. City officials will also help in the selection process.

“We’ve had some significant barriers to accessing healthy food in our communities, especially in our communities of color,” said Milele Kennedy, the Director of Community Nutrition and Food Policy for the City of Indianapolis, “This is the first opportunity we’ve had in the city to really, rapidly elevate the community needs around food.”

The hope is this program will help figure out how to provide equitable food access to communities long-term.

“It’s well overdue,” added Jackson.

Although this grant is focused on one neighborhood for now, the plan is to expand it. Click here to learn more about who is eligible and how to apply.

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