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Grants, Loans, and Support

Agriculture and Food and Research Initiative (AFRI): Improved Sustainable Food Systems

Type: Grants

Max award: To be determined each year; in 2010 the max award was $5,000,000 over five years

Big idea: To conduct research, education, and extension on local and regional food systems, from field to fork, that will increase sustainable food security in U.S. communities and expand viability within local economies. The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program and supports research in a number of program areas, including Improved Sustainable Food Systems.

Who can apply: Institutions of higher education

Possibilities: Grants can support sustainable food systems through projects that:

  • Identify, develop and evaluate community organizing strategies;
  • Evaluate local or regional food systems and their ability to increase food security;
  • Organize conferences and workshops that explore opportunities and constraints related to food system development and food insecurity;
  • Other activities per 2011 Request for Applications.

Real example: The University of Wisconsin, Growing Power, Inc., Michigan State University, Iowa State University, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and 10 community-based organizations received $4,944,748 over five years to examine existing food systems and identify barriers to increasing local access to food. The team will then recommend sustainable food production, processing and distribution solutions that are responsive to local needs and conditions and open access to nutritious food to those who need it most. The specific focus is getting more healthy food into urban areas of Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit, where food insecurity is extensive. The project is also creating research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students and developing curriculum for a pre-college enrichment program targeted at inner city high school students.

Get more information: For more information on this Challenge Area click here, and for information on the Agricultural Food and Research Initiative click here.