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Food System Financing Strategy – Phase II of the Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan

This report undertaken by Grassroots Globe and Valley Vision with the generous support of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation (SRCF) comprises Phase II of the 2021 Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan (Regional Action Plan) process and identifies strategies to meet the funding needs for a resilient, sustainable, and equitable food system. The development of targeted food system financing strategies has been a long-term priority for the region, as identified in the 2015 Sacramento Region Food System Action Plan and echoed across further reporting and initiatives completed over the years, including the research findings of a national landscape scan on governance and funding models undertaken by Grassroots Globe at the request of Soil Born Farms and the Healthy Food For All Collaborative. The region, part of the Great Central Valley, experiences chronic underinvestment in the food system, including from the philanthropic sector at the regional, state, and national levels. Most recently, the end of The California Endowment’s ten-year investment in the Building Healthy Communities initiative left a further gap in our funding infrastructure, particularly for the non-profit sector.

As America’s Farm to Fork Capital, strategic investments in the regional food system have the power to address pervasive, collective challenges connected to food and nutrition insecurity and food-related health crises; leverage the strong assets of our food and agriculture economy, including as a pathway for inclusive economic and community development; and accelerate the many innovative partnerships and activities, deepening their impact and surfacing best practices for replication. This is more important than ever given the increasing need for resilience in the wake of a changing climate and other systemic shocks, such as COVID-19.

The report focuses on three inter-related categories of funding pathways which provide orientation for the findings of this report: municipal finance tools, federal and state grants, and philanthropic fund models. While the latter two are familiar revenue sources for food systems partners, municipal finance tools represent an under-utilized pathway. As the field and framing of local economic development is increasingly being leveraged to bolster food systems revitalization in the post-COVID landscape, particularly in federal initiatives, municipal finance tools represent a unique opportunity for generating resources.

As such, this report takes a closer look at the range of tools available to local governments who were
called upon to play a more active and systematic role in the food system, as their investments can
improve community health and wellbeing while driving economic growth and opportunity.