Tipping Points

The Tipping Points Program explores the complexities of local food systems. Grantees collaborate with community organizations in five US cities to model aspects of regional food systems to reduce food insecurity, improve health and enhance economic outcomes.

Program Contact

Dr. John Reich

Development Contact

Dr. Kashyap Choksi

This program is no longer accepting applications

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is highlighting food system deficiencies and the fragility of emergency food systems. We expanded existing grants to Feeding America and five Tipping Points Program awardees to assess how food systems and especially emergency food systems, operate and adapt in times of stress.

We saw an opportunity for the Tipping Point grantees to use Feeding America’s data to expand their existing models. We awarded a total of $482,642 to the five grantees to examine the trade-offs associated with policy and programming interventions in response to COVID-19.

About Tipping Points

Health is linked to regional food systems and environment, but not all food systems are created equally. Many low-income residents in American cities lack access to affordable, nutritious foods.

The Tipping Points Program supports projects that identify leverage, or tipping, points in food systems where specific changes can improve overall community health and the economy.

In May 2018, we awarded five grants to multidisciplinary research teams to build mathematical and computational models of how factors and interventions within local food systems interact. Our grantees investigate:

  1. How components of the food system influence one another;
  2. Which policy and program interventions work best in specific environments; and
  3. How the interventions can be changed or combined to optimize their impact on the food system, community health and the economy.

Tipping Points Researchers

Alexandra Van Den Berg

Sustainable Food Center

Evaluating Food Access Strategies in Austin to Improve Healthy Food Consumption and Food Security

In Austin, Texas, the city health department funded Fresh for Less farm stands, mobile markets and healthy corner stores to increase access to affordable, healthy foods. We provided a $996,560 grant to Sustainable Food Center and Fresh for Less to study fruit and vegetable purchasing and consumption, food security and obesity. The research team also examines how long it takes for the community to adopt a new intervention.

Find out more

Dr. Beth Feingold

University at Albany

Environmental and Nutritional Benefits of Food Recovery and Redistribution: A Pilot Assessment in New York’s Capital Region

City-level food recovery programs are vast networks of overlapping delivery and incentive systems that, when inefficient, fail to get fresh nutritious foods to underserved people. With a $433,152 FFAR grant, Dr. Feingold and her University at Albany team evaluate the components of fresh produce recovery and redistribution in Albany, New York. This research is also identifying local inefficiencies, opportunities for growth and system resilience through dynamic modeling.

Dr. Darcy Freedman

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Modeling the Future of Food in Your Neighborhood

Many cities have initiatives to combat nutrition inequality. However, these programs are often separate and distinct even in the same city. With a FFAR grant of $936,418, Dr. Friedman and Case Western Reserve University researchers are developing decision-making tools to maximize the equitable impact of food systems efforts in Cleveland, Ohio. The team is exploring the interdependent relationships of existing initiatives within the food system.

Dr. Steven Gray

Michigan State University

Identifying Leverage Points for Transformation in Urban Food Systems

Due to Flint, Michigan’s economic decline, aid from all levels of government and various organizations poured in to decrease rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. Dr. Gray, Dr. Laura Schmitt-Olabisi and other Michigan State University researchers received a $1 million FFAR grant to determine how interventions from government and external organizations can use resources more efficiently to promote healthy and affordable food access in Flint.

Dr. Becca Jablonski

Colorado State University

Integrating Community and Modeling Efforts to Evaluate Impacts and Tradeoffs of Food System Interventions

Cities across the country are increasingly promoting food policies to support vibrant, healthy communities. However, little research examines how these policies also support the entire region. Dr. Jablonski and Colorado State University researchers received a $1 million FFAR grant to study how the proposed goals of the Denver Food Vision impact urban food security and health, as well as regional environmental, economic and farm viability outcomes.

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Tipping Points Awarded Grants

FFAR Grant Advances Equitable Food Access

Awarded Amount $1,000,000   
Year 2022
Matching Funders Modeling the Future of Food in Your Neighborhood Study Partners

Finding the Proper Levers: Identifying Leverage Points for Tranformation in Urban Food Systems Through Participatory Modeling

Awarded Amount $99,230   
Year 2020

Modeling the Future of Food in Your Neighborhood

Awarded Amount $100,000   
Year 2020

See all Tipping Points Awarded Grants

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