Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

City awards 25 organizations with grants to support food justice initiatives

Naina Srivastava
Sustainability and International Relations and Global Studies junior Jackson Taylor works at a UT Farmstand location on Oct. 15, 2023. The UT Farmstand gives its extra produce to the UT Outpost.

The city of Austin awarded $3,000 mini-grants to 25 organizations to support transformative change in the local food system earlier this month, said Angela Baucom, food and climate program coordinator.

The annual mini-grant program, first launched in 2020, is run by the city’s Office of Sustainability. When choosing recipients this year, Baucom said the city looked for organizations that aligned with the program’s core mission of addressing inequities in the food system.

“We understand that our food system is flawed,” Baucom said. “We know that Austin has a long-standing history of racial discrimination and segregation and that has permeated a lot of different parts of our (food) system.”

Baucom said the program awarded groups, including individuals and for-profit organizations, that historically have not been funded by the city.

“We’re not trying to give money to just the big players that have been funded and funded and funded again,” Baucom said. “We know they do great work, and there are lots of other community members doing great innovative work and a mini-grant like this could really make a difference for them.”

Nitza Cuevas, a core organizer for ATX Free Fridge, said it can be difficult for the organization to get funding since it is a mutual aid organization. 

“Most donors don’t want to donate if they can’t claim that donation,” Cuevas said. “(The mini-grant) is a huge relief to us and a very big reason why grant systems like this are important.”

The funding from the mini-grant will be used to restock food at ATX Free Fridge’s Second Street location, Cuevas said. She said the organization decided how to stock their fridges based on community input and Instagram engagement.

“People will stop by the fridge and take a photo and update us on what’s there and the state of the fridge,” Cuevas said. “Mostly we get those updates from people who are contributing something to the fridge and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I ran into somebody who was there and they asked for milk or they said that they could really use eggs.’”

Valeria Martin, UT Outpost assistant director for basic needs, said the UT Outpost will use the money from the mini-grant to fund hydroponic towers in partnership with the UT Farm Stand. 

The UT Outpost currently receives leftover produce from the UT Farm Stand, which already uses some hydroponic towers to grow produce for its recurring market. Martin said these additional towers would be specifically designated for the UT Outpost. 

“The Farm Stand team will be able to plant seeds in there and then grow fresh fruits and vegetables from these towers,” Martin said. “Instead of selling it at their market, that will just come directly to UT Outpost.”

Martin said although food insecurity numbers have stayed “pretty steady” in the last couple of years, more students have become aware of the UT Outpost.

“That’s something that I’ve seen change for sure,” Martin said. “The fact that people know about this resource more and are more willing to visit us, bring friends with them and just encourage others to seek the resource too.”

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About the Contributor
Naina Srivastava, Senior News Reporter & Senior Photographer
Naina is a freshman journalism major from Mountain View, California. She is currently a senior news reporter and senior photographer at the Texan.