Hartford Food System Receives $109,500 General Operating Support Grant From Hartford Foundation

Three-year grant to support the implementation of key objectives of organization's new strategic plan


Having one of the lowest median household income levels in the nation, and ranked at the bottom of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Hartford faces many health challenges including inconsistent access to affordable healthy food.  According to a recent study conducted by the University of Connecticut, more than 30 percent of Hartford preschoolers are overweight or obese, compared to 15 percent of preschoolers nationally. This issue is due in part, to the level of unhealthy food consumption that is characteristic of food insecurity.

Founded in 1978, Hartford Food System (HFS) has been dedicated to finding long-term solutions for access to affordable and healthy food in the city of Hartford. To help make this happen, Hartford Food Systems works to implement programs that improve access to nutritious and affordable food, helps consumers make informed food choices, advocates for a robust and economically sound food system, and  promotes responsible food policies at all levels of government. Recognizing the complexity of the issues, HFS promotes lasting solutions which require a system-based approach through non-emergency and sustainable strategies.

In recognition of its vital work, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded Hartford Food Systems a General Operating Support grant of $109,500 over three years to support the implementation of key objectives of its new strategic plan.  The new strategic goals include: enhancing partnerships and engaging deeply with community members and organizations to achieve constituent-responsive and comprehensive solutions to food system issues; using best practices and research findings to provide effective programming; being open to new challenges in a changing food environment; and becoming recognized as a creative and competent food security organization. 

”Hartford Food System is so very grateful for this generous grant that will support the work we do in this community,” said Hartford Food System executive director Martha Page.  “As we approach our 40th anniversary, we are proud of what we have accomplished, but realize that so much more needs to be done before every member of our community has ready access to healthy, affordable food.  This support from the Foundation will catalyze our efforts and will help us make progress toward a goal of a just food system for all”

Hartford Food System’s strategic plan outlines objectives regarding the quality and accessibility to healthy food in Hartford, along with enhanced organizational efforts toward these ends.  The organization is committed to ensuring that progress continues and to assessing conditions that might require change to be acted upon in a timely manner.  Plan objectives include the following priorities: 

  • Increase access to quality food at a scale that measurably improves food security and community health, and measurably impacts food system health;
  • Identify and act on policy and advocacy opportunities;
  • Promote effective board participation and engagement;
  • Generate sufficient and optimally mixed funds that develop and sustain programs and administrative infrastructure; and
  • Ensure program and administrative capacity to grow and change in response to its changing operating environment.

“Hartford Food System has an excellent record in addressing the problems of food insecurity, aligning well with this basic human need,” said Hartford Foundation senior community investments officer, Pete Rosa.  “They have been successful in engaging the community in its programs and addressing a range of food insecurity issues through its broad offerings.  This grant will help to ensure that Hartford Food System continues its progress and has the ability to assess conditions that might require change to be made in a timely manner.”

First established in 2013, the Hartford Foundation’s General Operating Support grants allow the Foundation to be responsive to the broad needs of Greater Hartford’s nonprofits. General Operating Support grants are intended to improve overall services to the community by strengthening an agency’s infrastructure, staff and systems. These grants provide unrestricted support to an organization’s mission and are directed toward an organization’s operations as a whole. By their nature, General Operating Support grants are more flexible than traditional project grants. The amount of funding depends on an agency’s size and financial condition and is consistent with the Foundation’s guidelines for regular grants.

“We are extremely pleased that General Operating Support grants awarded to nonprofits in our region have provided flexible funding, particularly in these uncertain economic times,” said Hartford Foundation senior vice president Judy Rozie-Battle. “The nonprofits who have received General Operating Support have demonstrated progress under their strategic plans as they strengthen their infrastructure to better serve our communities.” 

Organizations seeking more information about eligibility for a General Operating Support grant can contact Tara Sundie community investments associate, at TSundie@hfpg.org or (860) 548-1888 x 1014.


The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.