Table of Contents

General Information

Process & Timeline

Information for Awardees

Applying to the Food Justice Fund (Applications are now closed for 2024)

Something else?

What is community grantmaking?

The Food Justice Fund is a community grantmaking project (sometimes called “participatory grantmaking”). That means that the final awardees of this fund will be selected by a vote that is open to anyone over the age of 14 who resides in Syracuse, Onondaga County, or Onondaga Nation. The application process and selection criteria have been designed by the Food Justice Fund Leadership Council (FJFLC)  – a diverse group of community leaders committed to building a more just and equitable food system in our region. Read more about the specifics of how voting will work.

What is the expected timeline?

Thursday, February 15th  Food Justice Fund applications open
Friday, March 15th @ 5pmFood Justice Fund applications due
March 16 to March 27thFood Justice Fund Leadership Council reviews all applications:
Track 1: FJFLC selects finalists to advance to community voting
– Track 2: FJFLC selects awardees directly
Friday, March 29thTrack 1 finalists and Track 2 grantees announced
Thursday, April 4th @ 9amCommunity voting opens (how will this work?)
Thursday, April 18th @ 6:30pmCommunity voting ends
Thursday, April 18th from 5:30-7:30pm🌟Gather & Grant Celebration🌟
The public is invited to join finalists at Salt City Market’s Community Room (484 S. Salina in Downtown Syracuse). Those who haven’t voted previously will have their final opportunity to do so up until 6:30pm, after which awardees will be announced and we will celebrate together!
October 20242nd Annual Food Justice Gathering
While some projects may not be fully completed by late October 2024, our hope is that all grantees will have a meaningful story to share about the impact of their project as part of SOFSA’s 2nd Annual Food Justice Gathering.

Where can I find the grant application?

The application is available at Applications open on February 15th and are due March 15th at 5pm. Late applications will not be accepted.

Only online applications will be accepted.

Where can I get application support?

In-person application assistance is available:

  • Wednesday, February 21st from 11am-2pm – Beauchamp Branch Library (2111 S Salina St, Syracuse)
  • Tuesday, February 27th from 5-7pm – Lafayette Public Library (2577 US-11, Lafayette)
  • Wednesday, March 6th from 11am-2pm – Liverpool Public Library (310 Tulip Street, Liverpool)
  • Wednesday, March 13th from 5-7pm –  White Branch Library (763 Butternut St., Syracuse)

How many applications may I submit?

While we recognize that there are many great ideas, we ask that each applicant submits only one proposal for the 2024 round of Food Justice Funding.

There is no limitation on collaborations. For example, an applicant may be a collaborator on multiple projects but cannot be the primary recipient of funds for more than one application.

Where did these funds come from?

In 2023 for its annual “Plant A Seed” fundraising campaign, SOFSA’s Advisory Board decided to allocate 75% of funds raised to support efforts across our network to advance food justice – and the idea for this community grantmaking initiative was born!

Individual donors contributed a total of $4,000 to the campaign which was then matched dollar-for-dollar by the Onondaga County Agriculture Council, yielding a total of $8,000, 75% of which was dedicated to seed the first ever Syracuse-Onondaga Food Justice Fund. Through an investment from the NY Health Foundation, we were able to add another $20,000 to the Fund.

How can I contribute to the Food Justice Fund for 2025?

This year’s annual campaign “Plant a Seed with SOFSA” will again be dedicated to fundraising for another round of Food Justice Fund grants in 2025. To make a contribution, please visit:

How will funds be distributed?

The Food Justice Fund Leadership Council elected to save $4,000 of the available funds to seed another round of Food Justice Fund grants in 2025. The remaining $22,000 will be distributed in 2024 as follows:

  • Track 1: At least $20,000 will be distributed through a community voting process during the first two weeks of April 2024.
  • Track 2: Up to $2,000 of the funding may be granted to smaller projects under $1,000 at the discretion of the Food Justice Fund Leadership Council.

How will community voting work?

Beginning April 4th at 9am, voting will open through an online balloting system developed by the Crowdsourced Democracy Team at Stanford University. (This is the same system that was used by the Syracuse community for the participatory budgeting process for lead poisoning prevention last year.)

Any resident of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Onondaga Nation over the age of 14 is eligible to vote one time throughout the voting period.

Voting will be available in the following locations:

  • In-person at any Onondaga County Public Library location during their open hours. Visit to find a location near you. Ask at the circulation desk to receive a unique code.
  • Remotely from your phone or personal computer using SMS verification.
  • In-person at the Gather & Grant Celebration (Salt City Market Community Room) – Thursday, April 18th from 5:30-6:30pm. [on-site interpretation services available in Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, and ASL}

We will use “knapsack” style voting where participants will have the opportunity to fill their “bag” with projects to decide how this year’s Food Justice Fund grants are awarded. Results will be automatically tabulated at 6:30pm on April 18th and the awardees will be announced later that evening!

You can preview the ballot anytime at this link:

How will funding “remainders” be dealt with?

As you may be aware if you’ve previewed the ballot already, there is no configuration of the finalists’ projects that will have us arrive exactly at the available $21,050 for this year’s Track 1 grants.

  1. Once voting closes on April 18th, the projects will be ranked based on the votes received. 
  2. We’ll begin by allocating funds to the project receiving the highest amount of votes and will continue in order for each project.
  3. At some point as we go down the list, we’ll have some funds remaining but not enough to fully fund the next top-ranked project.
  4. If that remaining amount exceeds $1,000, the remaining funding will be awarded to the next top-ranking project that is willing to accept partial funding.
  5. If the remaining amount is under $1,000, that funding will be carried forward to the 2025 Food Justice Fund cycle.

What is the Food Justice Fund Leadership Council? How were their decisions made?

The Food Justice Fund Leadership Council (FJFLC) is a diverse group of community leaders committed to building a more just and equitable food system in our region. They were selected through an application process during fall 2023. The group is comprised of the following talented individuals who’ve lent their time and talent to designing this grantmaking process together:

  • Kimberly Rodriguez
  • Rhonda Vesey
  • Terrlicia Shipe
  • Twiggy Billue
  • Zoey Roberts

The FJF Leaders have received guidance through this process from a team of advisors who’ve supported the group through its decision-making. These advisors include CNY Community Foundation Program Officer Qiana Williams and SOFSA Advisory Board member Emilija Postolovska. SOFSA staff members have also helped to guide the FJFLC, sharing learnings from past Community Listening Sessions and input from the SOFSA network as a whole.

Over the course of its work to design this year’s community grantmaking process, the FJFLC has practiced consent-based decision-making arriving at its conclusions with careful deliberation. At the same time, we recognize that this is the first time we are embarking on a community grantmaking project. It will be messy, we will make mistakes, and we will work together to continually improve. It will also be celebratory and joyful as we collectively enact a food justice future that serves our community!

What are you looking for in the Project Overview section?

In the application, there is a 5-8 sentence Project Overview section. This intended to be a public-facing “sales pitch” that the community will read during the voting process. If your Track 1 proposal is advanced to the community voting phase, the response in this field will appear on the ballot as the description of your project. You are encouraged to explore the Sample Ballot to see how projects will appear to voters.

For Track 2 proposals, the Project Overview will be the main description of your project that the Food Justice Fund Leaders use to rank proposals and select awardees. You are still encouraged to use a persuasive “sales pitch” style that is easily understood by the general public.

What is an indirect cost?

Indirect costs are costs that cannot be directly attributed to a specific project. They are sometimes referred to as “overhead” or “costs of doing business”. This can include things like renting office space that’s used for more than just this one project or paying for a portion of a business’s insurance that covers all of its operations.

For the purposes of the Food Justice Fund in 2024, it is allowable to request a percentage of the budget for these costs, however indirect rates over 5-10% are discouraged. The voting public may or may not understand the concept of indirect costs so applicants are encouraged to make sure their response to the Use of Funds question helps folks understand why their project is a good value.

Where can I get assistance with my application?

In-person application assistance is available:

  • Wednesday, February 21st from 11am-2pm – Beauchamp Branch Library (2111 S Salina St, Syracuse)
  • Tuesday, February 27th from 5-7pm – Lafayette Public Library (2577 US-11, Lafayette)
  • Wednesday, March 6th from 11am-2pm – Liverpool Public Library (310 Tulip Street, Liverpool)
  • Wednesday, March 13th from 5-7pm –  White Branch Library (763 Butternut St., Syracuse)

What are the reporting requirements?

Grantees are expected to provide the following in terms of reporting on their project’s outcomes:

  • A story about the success of the project to be shared at the Food Justice Gathering in October 2024
  • 3-5 photos or videos of your project to be shared with the SOFSA network
  • Completion of a brief awardee survey to help improve the process for next year

What if my actual expenditures vary from those I proposed in my budget?

We know that actual expenditures may vary from those in the initially proposed budget. Within reason (and not to exceed 50% of the total award amount), grantees may shift costs to meet the realities of executing the project.

  • All expenditures must be directly related to the community-approved project’s overarching goals or intent.
  • Grantees must submit budget modification requests in writing to prior expending grant funds outside of the approved budget.

What if my question isn’t answered yet?

Throughout the application process, we’ll be answering the questions we receive on this growing FAQ page.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, please reach out to or 315-925-7404 to add your question to the mix!