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March 5, 2014 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

What Funders Need to Know: The Food System

Food has long been an issue that philanthropy cares about, particularly with regard to the problems of hunger and food insecurity that have been a reality for too many people at home and abroad for decades.

Today, food is a popular interest among more and more Americans, as evidenced by an increasing number of books, movies, academic programs, conferences, and so much more on the topic. Likewise, philanthropy is taking a broader interest in how our food is produced, processed, distributed, consumed, and disposed of, who is involved in this process, and where there are opportunities to improve how the entire system works.

Given its complexity and the growing amount of promising work happening in our region, the latest installment of What Funders Need to Know brings you an overview of the different activities that comprise the food system, along with some local examples of these activities.

We also offer some recommendations for ways to invest for multiple, integrated impacts. At the same time, we argue for the need for a more regional approach to thinking about food in the Greater Washington region. Only with a regional perspective can we effectively connect the exciting work that is taking place to maximize the impact of philanthropic investments, address critical gaps, keep track of progress, and make sure that our region is as well poised as any to attract more public and private investment in building a food system that works for all.

This issue brief summarizes some of what’s been learned through the work of the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, a project of WRAG. To learn more about the work of the Convergence Partnership, or about investing in the food system, contact Lindsay Smith at smith@washingtongrantmakers.org.


This edition of What Funders Need to Know is one of several resources that we’ll be developing throughout the year to raise the visibility of food in our region. We hope you will join us for the kick-off to WRAG’s 2014 Brightest Minds series on April 1st at Busboys and Poets, where food writer and culinary historian, Michael W. Twitty, will raise our awareness of culinary justice in today’s world.

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