One Green Funder’s Work to Feed Boston

Can New England get 80 percent of its food from local sources? The Kendall Foundation thinks so, and it’s starting by introducing more fresh foods in a few key places, including the Dunkin Donuts-lined streets of Boston. 

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation is a mostly environmental New England funder that has been around since the 1950s, but it has a knack for reinventing itself. Kendall shifted attention to nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, then in 1999, it moved over to climate change. Since 2011, it’s retained its focus on reducing greenhouse gases, but with a laser-like focus on improving food systems.

Related: Henry P. Kendall Foundation: Boston Area Grants

Kendall is now entirely giving to its New England Food System Program, which is driven primarily by a combination of concern about public health and climate change. Its goal (although somewhat in flux) is for the majority of the food the region eats to be produced here by 2060. 

That funding has translated to as much as $3.5 million in a year, and while grants go toward regional efforts, they also target specific locales for example-setting food projects. Greater Boston is one of those places, and Kendall has been backing a number of local projects to get more fresh food into our Bodega- and chicken parm-filled neighborhoods. 

It's backed some pretty cool projects, most notably the Boston Public Market Association. This effort to establish a huge, locally sourced market in downtown Boston has received $1 million from Kendall. 

Kendall has also supported efforts in Dorchester, a large, highly diverse neighborhood, including grants to an organization working to establish a food coop there. And one large recent grantee is a campaign to turn an old meat factory into a massive, shared-use kitchen available for local food startups. 

And last year, Kendall gave $100,000 to New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a nonprofit that trains new local farmers, to expand its offerings to meet growing demand in Boston. 

Kendall does not accept unsolicited applications, discouraging groups from contacting them. But there’s quite a bit more information at our IP profile and the foundation’s site.