Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Foundation aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK and takes pride in supporting work that might otherwise be considered difficult to fund.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation - Food Strand


Grants are available to charities and not-for-profit organisations in the UK for projects promoting the important role food plays in wellbeing and that connects people to the food that they eat.

Objectives of Fund

The Foundation aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK and takes pride in supporting work that might otherwise be considered difficult to fund.
The aim of the Food strand is to find an alternative system that produces higher quality food in ways that are better for people, the environment and livestock.

Value Notes

Organisations should apply for the amount that they need. There is no maximum grant amount. However, the Foundation makes only a small number of grants in excess of £500,000 and it is unusual for the Foundation to give a grant of this size or larger to an organisation with which it does not already have a relationship.

Match Funding Restrictions

Applicants do not need to have matched funding in place before applying but where the total cost of the work proposed for funding is high, applicants should indicate other sources of funding or specific plans to apply elsewhere.

Who Can Apply

The Foundation invites applications from charities and not-for-profit organisations in the UK.  Charities do not need to be registered charities to apply, but the Foundation can only fund work that is legally charitable.  An applicant charity's constitution must allow it to carry out the work proposed.


The Food Strand will not support the following:
  • Food-related work that is well supported from other sources.
  • Work that takes place primarily in individual schools.
  • Routine local growing schemes.
  • Work that is routine or well-proven elsewhere, for example:
    • Core work of city and demonstration farms.
    • Healthy eating projects.
    • Gastronomic societies and clubs.
    • The routine work of farmers markets.
    • Mainstream work of individual Allotment Associations.
    • Therapeutic farming and horticulture projects.
    • Community based work of entirely local impact with no prospect of wider replication.
    • Community Caf├ęs.
    • Individual food banks.
  • Weight loss organisations and other specialist diet groups.
  • Work that provides a commercial advantage to individual suppliers.
  • Work that has primarily health-related outcomes.
  • Work that forms a better fit with the priorities of the Foundation's Main Fund.
In general the Foundation is also unable to support:
  • Work that does not have a direct benefit in the UK.
  • General appeals or circulars.
  • Grants to individuals or to causes that will benefit only one person, including student grants or bursaries.
  • Work that is common to many parts of the UK such as:
    • Mainstream or core activities of organisations that are part of a wider network of others doing similar work (eg YMCA, MIND groups, Age UK), even if they are constituted as separate organisations.
    • Services that are provided in similar ways in many locations such as refuges, hostels, night shelters and standard services for homeless people, contact centres, sports associations, playgroups, play schemes, out of school clubs, supplementary schools, playgroups, youth clubs, and general capacity building/ professional development.
    • Routine work to improve employability skills such as training on CV writing, interview skills, literacy, numeracy, communication, ESOL courses and activities to increase self confidence.
    • Routine information and advice work.
  • Recreational activities including outward bound courses and adventure experiences.
  • Capital costs including building work, renovations, and equipment.
  • Energy efficiency or waste reduction schemes such as recycling or renewable energy schemes unless they have exceptional social benefits.
  • Healthcare or related work such as medical research, complementary medicine, hospices, counselling and therapy, arts therapy, education about and treatment for drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Work that is primarily the responsibility of central or local government, health trusts or health authorities. This includes residential, respite and day care, housing provision, individual schools, nurseries and colleges, and vocational training.
  • To replace or subsidise statutory income, although rare exceptions will be made where the level of performance has been exceptional and where the potential impact of the work is substantial.
  • The independent education sector.
  • Animal welfare, zoos, captive breeding and animal rescue centres.
  • The promotion of religion.
  • Retrospective funding, meaning support for work that has already taken place.
  • Work that is not legally charitable.
The Foundation is unlikely to fund research.

Eligible Expenditure

Support is available for initiatives that raise awareness, promote and demonstrate reduced usage of harmful pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and fossil fuels. The Fund wants to stimulate community involvement in food production and support the development of a more positive policy position as well as encouraging organisations from across the spectrum of food interests to work more closely together to address system-wide issues.
Funding priorities are as follows:
  • Local innovation in alternative approaches - funding is available for inventive local projects that demonstrate alternative approaches to mainstream corporate food production and consumption. These exemplify viable food production methods that do less harm to the natural environment than conventional food production practices, while enhancing the lives of people and livestock. They will involve local communities and are also widely replicable if successful. They can articulate how they might help to influence policy and practice.
  • Food and wellbeing - funding is available for exemplary and high impact work that improves people’s understanding of the role of food in their lives and the impact it can have on personal and community wellbeing. In particular the Fund seeks to influence changes in public preferences, attitudes and behaviours. This can be simple but should be on a scale that influences and drives how food is produced, transported, marketed and consumed and can influence significant numbers of people. Approaches that are engaging, participatory and educational without preaching to people are sought.
  • Working towards a more coherent food sector - the Fund aims to foster closer links between those who can influence changes in food production, distribution and consumption, such as third sector community food groups and retailers. This will include work that links advocates of change in the food system with academics and sources of research and evidence. Support is also available for work that aims to persuade mainstream food businesses of all sizes to engage with the food sustainability agenda and to seek sustainable sources of supply.
Funding is also available for organisations that have the capacity and skills to engage policy makers at national regional and local level. Applications are sought from organisations with a track record of gathering and presenting persuasive, evidence-based arguments.
Through this funding, the Fund hopes to see:
  • High quality, innovative local food projects, particularly those that can become financially sustainable and are replicable.
  • Closer links between NGOs, community groups, producers, retailers and industry in order to create a more coherent food sector.
  • A demonstrable improvement in people’s understanding of the place that food plays in our lives and that delivers behaviour changes.
  • Greater demand for food that is produced more sustainably and approaches with the capacity to influence a large number of consumers.
  • A prioritisation of sustainable food production and consumption in local and national policy, practice and decision-making.
Grants are available to support organisations’ core or project costs, including staff salaries and overheads.

How To Apply

Applications may be submitted at any time.
Frequency: Rolling Programme.
Link to guidelines:
Useful information:
Applicants are advised to take the online eligibility quiz.
The Foundation has a two-stage application process. Applicants should first make an online first stage application to allow the Foundation to make an initial assessment and decide whether to take the application to the second stage. Applicants that are successful at this stage will be invited to make a second stage application.

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