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Introducing The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund’s Healthy Food & Community Change Initiative Report

- By Melissa A. Berman

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has been honored to serve as a strategic partner of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund since 2008. Our mission is to help donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy throughout the world. In the case of the Illumination Fund, we have provided research and counsel to help them design new initiatives and maximize impact.

The Illumination Fund invited us to help document and assess its Healthy Food & Community Change initiative and to flesh out insights that could be helpful to others who are involved in, or considering involvement in, philanthropy that uses food as a vehicle to improve communities

All of the larger programs were evaluated, in some cases internally and in some cases by third parties. The results demonstrate multiple levels of impact, including quantitative metrics and qualitative data.

Food sounds like a simple topic, but access to healthy food and healthy choices is remarkably complex because it’s bound up in long-term, deeply rooted issues of economic opportunity, community resilience, equity, and infrastructure. So beyond facts and figures related to specific grants, what we find compelling are the learnings and opportunities for communities that Healthy Food & Community Change produced.

The Healthy Food & Community Change initiative has been catalytic for organizations and agencies citywide. The Illumination Fund was the first foundation supporter for several major initiatives, enabling promising programs to come to fruition. In other cases, particularly with smaller organizations, the Fund’s support helped expand programs and build capacity.

It has also contributed toward systems change in New York and beyond. For example, health care providers increasingly link food insecurity and health; community development corporations identify healthy food as an essential ingredient in neighborhood revitalization; and food has emerged as an economic opportunity for residents. This report uses case studies of grantees to illustrate these cross-cutting themes.

As philanthropy advisors, we see new opportunities for a broad range of funders – not just those focused on food systems – who are supporting communities in building a stronger future.

We hope this report is a valuable resource, and an engaging read. Read the full report here: HRCC Report

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