Officials with the Houston Food Bank announced May 28 a new round of grant funding through Feeding Ameria's Food Security Equity Impact Fund.

The funding is being directed at several entities in Greater Houston running urban farms, including local nonprofit Plant it Forward, according to a May 28 news release.

The big picture

The FSEIF program specifically seeks to find solutions to hunger through the tackling of systemic barriers like racial and economic inequalities, according to the release.

“As our communities continue to grow and, in turn, the demand for food also increases, we need to remain mindful of the importance of our neighborhoods and the local communities and growing local to help sustain us,” Houston Food Bank President Brian Greene said in a statement. “A world that doesn’t need food banks’ is the vision of the Houston Food Bank, and to make this vision a reality, we will continue to commit ourselves to work directly with local communities.”

Digging in

The Houston Food Bank was awarded $750,000 in grant funding in total from FSEIF, a portion of which was distributed in 2022, with the second allocation made in May. The funding is aimed at organizations that assist farmers and food producers who are black, indigenous or people of color, which includfes Plant if Forward as well as the following groups:
  • Shamba Ya Amani, a community garden established in 2020 in the Alief area
  • American Sudanese Chamber of Commerce, which works to empower Houstonians from Sudan and also works alongside Plant it Forward
  • Ivy Leaf Farms, a family-operated urban farm working in Sunnyside
  • Harvest for the Hungry, a nonprofit providing healthy farm-to-table food to those in need using farmland in Freeport, Texasn
  • Small Places, which develops urban farms to upend systemic inequalities around food and health, with much of their work over the past nine years focused on Houston's historic Second Ward and East End community
The context

Plant if Forward was awarded $114,740 through the first round of funding in 2022. For the second round in 2024, the group was awarded another $20,000.

The nonprofit, founded in 2011, partners with former refugees to develop sustainable farms while also providing training on farm production and entrepreneurship and operating a Food Hub that connects farms to local markets.

The grant funding has allowed the group to increase the number of farmers they work with from 13 to 60, according to the news release. It also allowed for a doubling in capacity of the Food Hub and the piloting of a workshop series aimed at addressing barriers to entry for refugee farmers.

Plant it Forward operates four farms in Houston:
  • PIF Fondren, 10595 Fondren Road, Houston: owned by Braeswood Assembly of God
  • PIF Westbury, 12581 Dunlap St., Houston: located alongside the Westbury Community Garden
  • PIF Montrose, 1318 Sul Ross St., Houston: the location of Jasmine Family Farm, on land owned by the University of St. Thomas
  • PIF Blossom Heights, 8720 Lipan Road, Houston: a half-acre site where Blossom Heights Child Development Center also hosts Afri Harvest Farm