Building Grantee Capacity as a Core Strategy to Improve Local Food Systems


  • Alyssa Banks Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Rebecca Saito Rainbow Research
  • Margaret Adameck Terra Soma, LLC



Community Food Systems, Grantee Capacity-building, Place-based Grantmaking, Partnerships, Food Security, Root Causes


Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW), Minnesota’s largest nongovernmental social services funder, connects local people and resources to change systems that limit our potential. Hunger and food insecurity require a spectrum of holistic responses that address emergency and root causes, while advancing long-term solutions for individuals, families, communities, and systems. To that end, GTCUW launched Full Lives, an innovative grantmaking strategy fostering a healthy and equitable community food system where all residents can thrive. This two-year, US$1.5 million effort employs a place-based approach to community and economic development to reduce food insecurity by improving food access, food affordability, and food justice for a low-income Minneapolis neighborhood facing systemic food security issues. Full Lives grantees focus on diverse aspects of the local supply chain that strengthen North Minneapolis’s local food system.

Full Lives further augments this effort through grantee learning focused on increased organizational capacity and strengthened connections among grantee organizations, with a cross-cutting theme of commu­nity development. GTCUW partners with local technical assistance providers to implement flexible, innova­tive, responsive, and targeted capacity-building strategies and services. This strategic investment generates cross-agency collaboration, active networking, organizational development, and enhanced food systems tech­nical expertise. A robust evaluation—including qualitative and quantitative elements—reveals successes, chal­lenges, and lessons learned from the design and execution of these capacity-building strategies. Practice and measurement of this grantee capacity-building investment suggests strategies and considerations for partner­ship development, incorporation of grantee and community voice in planning, and delivery of ongoing educational activities for grantees.

GTCUW would like to thank the General Mills Foundation for its generous support in making this work possible.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Rebecca Saito, Rainbow Research

Associate Director and Senior Research Associate

Margaret Adameck, Terra Soma, LLC


Logo for the Place-Based Food Systems conference



How to Cite

Banks, A., Saito, R., & Adameck, M. (2019). Building Grantee Capacity as a Core Strategy to Improve Local Food Systems. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(A), 253–254.