- Sprouts Farmers Market’s philanthropic arm is awarding $1.6 million in grants to nonprofits dedicated to distributing emergency food supplies to people impacted by the pandemic, according to a press release.
- The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation will give 120 grants to organizations based in the 23 states where Sprouts runs supermarkets.
- Like other grocers, Sprouts had traditionally helped people face food insecurity and provide nutrition education in areas it serves, but the pandemic has spurred the grocer to redouble its efforts to directly fight hunger.
While Sprouts’ philanthropic foundation has traditionally focused on supporting community organizations' efforts to educate children and promote access to fresh food, rising food insecurity driven by the coronavirus pandemic has spurred the philanthropic team to step up its efforts to directly fight hunger, said Lyndsey Waugh, executive director of the foundation.
“All of a sudden there was this strong desire and need for people to have access to food in the moment, right there in their communities,” Waugh said in an interview.
With groups it funds, like school and community gardens, rapidly changing course to provide emergency food supplies to people, Sprouts decided to modify its rules to help grant recipients accelerate their food-distribution efforts, according to Waugh. The fact that social distancing requirements sidelined in-person educational events underscored the need for the changes.
“We knew that as the world was going virtual, our partners were going to need flexibility with the grant funding that we had put out to support their programs,” Waugh said. “So we immediately released all of the restrictions on dollars that we had put out into the community and said, 'Use those dollars to do what's most urgent in this moment right now to serve your community.'”
For example, the Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama, used funds from Sprouts to help turn its teaching farms into production farms, a shift that enabled the organization to give out more than 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables since April, according to the press release.
In addition to directly funding the activities of organizations to which it provides grants, Sprouts is helping these groups hire people with expertise that can help them improve their operations, Waugh said.
“We've been really focused on having it be more than just writing a check, but [on] how do we become a partner with the organizations that we're working with, so that we can really strengthen the work that they're doing at the community level,” she said.