Regional Food Systems Grant Program

The John Merck Fund

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Grant amount: US $1,500 - US $200,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, General Operating Expense

Location of project: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island Show all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



Our food systems reflect some of the 21st century’s most pressing challenges, but also offer significant opportunities to address them.

America’s industrialized and massive-scale agricultural system contributes to climate change, water scarcity and pollution, food-borne illness, antibiotic resistance, loss of wildlife and habitat, obesity and other disease and food insecurity.

Creating new, regional and sustainable food systems can help address many of these cross-cutting concerns while ensuring the most vulnerable among us – children, the poor and people in hospitals – are getting the healthy food they need to thrive. We’re supporting such a regional food system in New England by:

  • Channeling demand from our region’s largest food purchasers such as schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals to increase the economic success of sustainable agriculture;
  • Focusing on supply chains to expand and streamline the supply and demand of regionally and sustainably produced food; and
  • Strengthening food production and distribution systems so they can meet the growing demand.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To be eligible, organizations must have a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and tax classification under Section 509(a), confirming that the organization is publicly supported.
  • General support grants are only for very small organizations.


  • The Fund favors:
    • Outstanding individuals working on promising projects in organizations that may have difficulty attracting funds;
    • Pilot projects with potential for widespread application;
    • Advocacy or litigation capable of setting or protecting important precedents;
    • Smaller organizations and startups;
    • One-year grant requests (though multiyear grants of up to three years occasionally are made); and
    • Matching-grant opportunities, particularly to help broaden support for fledgling initiatives.


  • The Fund does not provide grants for: 
    • Endowment or capital-fund projects;
    • Large organizations with well-established funding sources, unless they are launching new initiatives with limited funding opportunities;
    • General support, except for very small organizations;
    • Individuals, unless their work is supported by a scientific, educational or charitable organization; and
    • Artistic projects.