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Food access strategies must meet community members where they are. As trusted and accessible institutions, local park and recreation (P&R) agencies play a critical role in improving access to the social determinants of health for underserved populations. NRPA seeks to build upon the success of P&R and transform the field into food access community-based wellness hubs, defined as trusted gathering places that provide access to affordable healthy foods and essential nutrition supports that reduce food insecurity, strengthen healthy decision making, and improve health outcomes. Hubs can offer healthy meals, food insecurity screenings, benefit enrollment and retention assistance, benefit acceptance at farmers markets, health literacy, among other nutrition-related supports and services.

What are the requirements for this grant?

Grantees are expected to build off their existing nutrition programs (participation in the USDA nutrition programs, nutrition education, community gardening, cooking classes, etc.), and implement broader food access strategies to improve food security across their community. Requirement for this grant are also detailed in the Technical Assistance Overview  . 

  • Advance equitable and community-driven wellness hubs that promote sustainable, long-term access to healthy, affordable, fresh, local, and culturally relevant nutrition for people of color, low-income and rural communities.
    • Grantees will be provided with training and technical assistance to expand effective food access strategies (i.e. child and adult meal programs, conducting food insecurity screenings, providing SNAP/WIC benefit outreach and enrollment assistance, building referral networks with community-based organizations (CBOs) and healthcare providers, accepting and expanding SNAP/WIC benefits at farmers markets, and implementing culturally relevant nutrition literacy).
  • Center and advance health equity strategies in parks and recreation through systems change approaches. Systems-change approaches address power structures, policies, social norms, relationships, environments (physical and social), and resources. 
    • Grantees will participate in an in-depth workshop, one-on-one and group assistance and coaching opportunities, peer networking discussions, and resource sharing through a virtual platform. Grantees will be provided support to develop a health equity action plan and will apply the plan to advance health equity strategies, practices and policies within the agency’s food access operations, programs and services. This will include a focus on community decision making and power shifting.
  • Build key community coalitions and strengthen local grassroots advocacy to build long-term municipal support and ensure the sustainability of community wellness hubs.
    • Grantees will participate in NRPA’s refreshed Park Champions initiative focused on building grassroots advocacy efforts to advance long-term investment and support for local parks and recreation including community wellness hubs. Grantees will receive hands-on T/TA and have access to professional development opportunities in year 1, to build foundational advocacy knowledge and skills and apply learnings in year 2 to build a local coalition in partnership with community members and CBOs to advance advocacy actions.



What do you mean by community wellness hub?

NRPA defines a community wellness hub as a trusted gathering place that connects every member of the community to essential programs, services and spaces that advance health equity, improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life. This project is specifically focused on developing community wellness hubs that provide equitable access to affordable, healthy foods and essential nutrition supports and services that improve food security, strengthen healthy decision making, and improve health outcomes.

Based on lessons learned from the 2019-2021 cohort, grantees will advance their community wellness hub and food access solutions by integrating new approaches and strategies into park and recreation spaces. Approaches may include:

  • Build the capacity of the park and recreation agency and program staff to serve as a primary provider of nutrition supports, including food insecurity screenings and on-site SNAP and WIC enrollment assistance and retention efforts;
  • Leverage the park and recreation agency’s role as a community gathering place and bring nutrition supports into facilities by establishing formal partnerships with other service providers;
  • Establish a streamlined referral system with other service providers to connect food-insecure households with nutrition supports available within the community;
  • Provide mobile services that deliver resources and supports to the community to address transportation barriers;
  • Other innovative models that leverage community strengths and assets and support additional nutrition supports.

Does my agency already need to be acting as a wellness hub?

No! While your agency does need to be currently serving meals through the federal nutrition program, NRPA anticipates supporting pilot models through this funding. Grantees will be guided through a 6-month planning process, followed by a 12-month implementation process to establish and evaluate community wellness hub models.

What do you mean by community partner?

In order to best support the implementation of this hub model, each grantee organization will be required to form a cross-sector project leadership team to leverage community partners to support the development and implementation of the nutrition hub. Examples of partners include schools, non-profit organizations, foundations, healthcare organizations, transportation companies, etc. Grantees will also be encouraged to employ a community health worker model within their agency to support grant goals, if feasible. See definition and link to NRPA Partnership Building Resource in Appendix A.

Why does my agency need to submit a work plan?

In order to best support and sustain your wellness hub model, NRPA wants grantees to clearly define their top three goals and establish which roles and partners will best support those goals. The work plan is designed to be a living document and may be adjusted as the funded project evolves. Workplans should include all potential activities to be implemented over the 18-month period.

Applicant Work Plan Template



Applicants can utilize federally funded programs to support their community wellness hubs.  Below are several federal nutrition programs that grantees can participate in for applicant eligibility:

  • Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): SFSPs are run as open or enrolled sites. Open sites receive reimbursement for all meals and snacks served to participating children ages 18 and under if located in a low-income area, defined as 50 percent or more of children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Enrolled sites serve free meals to all children enrolled in a program with at least 50 percent of children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. Sites can be reimbursed for up to two meals and one snack per day served to each child.
  • Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): The CACFP’s At-Risk Afterschool component provides up to one free snack and one free meal per child in attendance areas where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. The program is available to OST programs during the school year, including on weekends and holidays. Educational and enrichment activities must also be taking place, in addition to the meal program at CACFP sites. If sites also serve older adults age 60 or older, they may also be eligible to participate in the adult care component of CACFP to receive reimbursement for meals and snacks served that meet the adult care meal pattern. Per USDA regulations, adult care centers must be nonresidential and have Federal, State, or local licensing for adult day care services. Additionally, older adult participants must be individually eligible based on income. Meals in the adult care component are reimbursed at free or reduced-price rates based on individual eligibility. CACFP meals can also be served year-round and in conjunction with federal summer meal programs, including SFSP or NSLP for youth ages 18 or younger.
  • National School Lunch Program (NSLP): The NSLP’s Afterschool Care Snack Service is available for programs sponsored or operated by a school district (School Food Authority) and allows for one snack to be served after the regular school day ends. School sponsors can also offer summer meals and snacks through the Seamless Summer Option of NSLP. Sites can be located at schools or in the community.
  • Congregate Nutrition Services for Seniors: The Administration on Aging (AOA) in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers the Nutrition Services Program, which includes the Congregate Nutrition Services Program (Older Americans Act (OAA)- Title III funding). Congregate nutrition services provide meals and related nutrition services to older individuals in a variety of group settings, such as senior centers, community centers, schools, and adult day care centers. The program also provides seniors with opportunities for social engagement and volunteering. Individuals aged 60 or older may participate in the congregate nutrition program.

How do I know if our agency participates in the USDA or Congregate Nutrition Programs?

If your agency is the sponsor of the meal programs, you are most likely aware that you participate in them.  

If your agency is not the sponsor and meals come to your site from another sponsor (the local school district, food bank, other non-profit, etc.) you also most likely participate in these programs and are eligible to apply for the grant. Meals must be served at sites operated by parks and recreation (park, swimming pool, community center, recreation complex, school site where park and recreation programming takes place, etc.).  

The best way to determine if you participate in one of these programs is to contact your meal provider and ask if they participate in the federally reimbursable programs.



We are a nonprofit organization that partners with our local government park and recreation department. Can we apply?

Yes. The applicant for the grant can be a local government agency or an affiliated 501c(3) engaged with parks and recreation (e.g. municipal park and recreation department, tribal recreation department, park district, community services department, non-profit health coalition, etc.) If you are not a park and recreation agency, the director of your partner P&R agency will need to provide a letter of support stating their intention to work closely together to implement the hub model at their agency.

If a local government agency applies, can the project lead be a non-profit partner?

Yes, a non-profit partner may lead the work in close consultation with the local government agency.

Do we have to be a current member of NRPA in order to apply? 

NRPA encourages membership to ensure that your agency has access to the full suite of education and resources available; however, you do not have to be a current member of NRPA to be eligible to apply.

Are municipalities/organizations outside of the U.S. eligible to receive grants?

Grants will only be awarded to projects located within the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Are we required to serve both summer and before/after school meals through USDA sponsored meal programs? Ideally your agency should serve both summer and before/after school meals through both SFSP, CACFP or NSLP. If you are not currently serving meals during summer and afterschool you will need to indicate in your application how you plan to start a program.

Are we required to be the USDA meal sponsor in order to be eligible to apply?

No, your agency is not required to serve as the USDA sponsor in order to apply for the grant. You may partner with another organization that serves as the sponsor, such as your local school district or another community-based organization.

My agency received a grant from NRPA and the Walmart Foundation in previous years. Are we eligible to apply again?

Yes, past grantees are eligible and encouraged to apply for funding.

What does my agency need to know about SNAP and WIC?

Grantee agencies will be required to explore SNAP/WIC enrollment and outreach services through your agency. Direct technical assistance will be provided to support agencies, but a familiarity of the SNAP and WIC benefit programs is encouraged prior to applying.

What type of community are you looking for and who is most likely to receive funding?

As described in the RFP Scoring Guide, applicants who demonstrate the following will be prioritized for funding:

  • Clear interest and commitment to implementing a community wellness hub.
  • Demonstrated readiness to effectively implement and sustain the project with significant impact.
  • Commitment to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI), and a desire to deepen JEDI practices through this grant.
  • Project team includes a community-based partner with intentional roles for advancing this project.
  • Proposed wellness hub project aligns with agency goals and community priorities.
  • Health equity is central to the community wellness hub vision.
  • Community assets, challenges, and leadership are guiding forces in project plans.
  • Proposal has leadership support from parks and recreation and community partners.

Following the review of candidate applications, NRPA will assess applicants using several quantitative data sources to ensure funds will prioritize communities serving historically disenfranchised communities. NRPA will assess racial/ethnic diversity, income levels, food insecurity rates, and COVID-19 rates and impacts, in addition to using the CDC's Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), to ensure that grant funds are distributed with an equity lens, with a goal of 75% of grant funds disseminated to agencies with high vulnerability ratings (SVI score of .75 or higher). The SVI considers 15 different variables including racial/ethnic data, poverty levels, transportation, and community resources. NRPA will also utilize the Opportunity Index, prioritizing communities with a less than 50% rating. The asset-framed index considers four dimensions of community wellbeing: economy, education, health, and community, identifying both strengths of communities and opportunity for growth. Finally, applicants will be for rates of food insecurity through Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap and Free/Reduced School Meal rates. Applicants serving under-invested, disenfranchised communities will be prioritized during candidate selection.



How many grants will be awarded?

15 agencies will receive $90,000 over an 18-month project period.

Is a grant match required?

No, a match is not required.

What are eligible expenses for these grant funds?

Examples of eligible expenses include:

  • Staffing to support program implementation
    • In addition to staff time, funds may be used on expenses such as offering small partner stipends, supporting contract development, and hosting partner meetings expenses
  • Compensation to community-based organizations and outside consultants
  • Marketing and promotions within the local community
  • Supplies (tables and chairs, nutrition education supplies, for example)
  • Technology needed to offer additional nutrition services (computers, software, mobile tablets, etc.)
  • Food service or transportation equipment (heating or refrigeration units, vehicles, for example)
  • SNAP/WIC EBT machines to accept supplemental nutrition programs at farmers markets
  • Other basic needs to create or expand access to healthy foods​​

Funding cannot be used to purchase food for meal programs. However, grant funds can be used to purchase items needed for nutrition education implementation (some activities may require small amounts of food and ingredients). 

Please budget accordingly and list this expense as a line item on your proposed budget. All grantees must maintain a detailed program budget and keep receipts. NRPA conducts a random audit of all grant programs. If your agency is selected to participate in the audit, you will be asked to submit your receipts.

What benefits will my agency receive as a grantee?

  • Grant funding
  • National recognition as an NRPA grantee, including visibility in Parks and Recreation magazine, NRPA’s Open Space blog, and NRPA’s website
  • Training and technical assistance from NRPA and other national leading organizations
  • Peer-to-peer support/opportunities to connect with other local park and recreation agencies on an on-going basis
  • Access to exclusive professional development through NRPA’s Equity in Practice and NRPA’s Park Champions Initiative
  • Participation in an in-depth evaluation, including focus groups, with leading researchers
  • An opportunity to have your work featured in national resources and video



How much involvement is expected from community-based organizations?

The community should play an extensive leadership role in the planning, implementation and stewardship of the project. To do this, we highly recommend engaging community-based organizations in this proposal and partnering with them throughout and beyond this project. Specifically, organizations representing local communities, as well as specific demographics such as Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, immigrant and refugee communities, and individuals with physical/cognitive disabilities.

Types of partners may include but are not limited to, other government departments such as transportation, planning, water, public works, schools, social service organizations, affordable housing developments, churches, and advocacy or environmental/health justice organizations.

Applicants are strongly discouraged from reaching out to a community-based organization for the sole purpose of meeting these specific grant requirements. While this grant can be a launching point for partnership, inauthentically partnering solely for this project will result in animosity and distrust. Go into this intending to build on partnerships for the long-term.

What will grantee training and technical assistance look like?

An overview of the plan for training, technical assistance and cohort meetings are provided in the Technical Assistance Overview .

Are there any required in-person trainings that my agency must attend?

At least two representatives from each grantee organization plus one community partner must attend two trainings. The first will be a three week series of virtual grantee convenings on July 27th, August 3rd and August 10th, 2022. The second will be an in-person training at the NRPA Conference in Dallas, TX as a preconference workshop on Monday, Oct 9th, 2023. Grantees may budget $4,000 total for travel expenses to attend this pre-conference in Dallas. This is the only required in-person training. Additional required virtual meetings and trainings are outline in the Technical Assistance Overview .

What reporting/evaluation is required during this grant?

Grantees are required to submit two major reports in December of 2022 and January of 2023 outlining project successes, challenges, meal numbers, etc. Templates will be provided in advance for these reports. Grantees will also be required to participate in evaluation activities, including focus groups, key informant interviews, nutrition literacy evaluation, and surveying.

If my agency is not chosen this application cycle, will there be other opportunities to apply?

This is the only grant opportunity at this time. However, as NRPA looks to continue to grow and expand community wellness hubs, future opportunities will be added to NRPA’s Grant Opportunities page.

Will feedback be provided for applications that are not selected?

Brief feedback will be provided to all applicants not selected. Future applications are encouraged from declined applicants.

Who should provide a statement of support?

The head of your organization (director, superintendent, etc.) and one community partner. If you are applying on behalf of a 501(c)3, please include an additional letter of support from your local park and recreation agency. The statement of support could be in letter, email, or audio form.

Why are you asking for a statement of support?

NRPA would like to know that the head of your organization supports not only your application for this grant, but also supports increasing access to healthy foods for your community.  NRPA encourages transparent partnerships with community-based organizations, and therefore requires a statement of support (in written, audio, or email form) from the community partner sharing their support for the grant opportunity.

When is the application due and when will I be notified?

All applications are due on May 13, 2022. NRPA anticipates notifying all applicants of award status by June 13, 2022.

What is the applicant interview process?

As this grant program is anticipated to be a detailed and intensive period, following the application submission, NRPA will be selecting applicants to conduct individual phone interviews in order to learn more about the details of the applicants’ proposed hub model, and how the model will be sustainably supported. Following the phone interviews, 15 grantees will be chosen to receive funding.

Who can I contact with questions about this grant?

If you have questions regarding this grant opportunity, please email lruizfischer@nrpa.org



Appendix A- Key Term Definitions

Community-based Organizations (CBOs) – “a public or private nonprofit organization of demonstrated effectiveness that— (A) is representative of a community or significant segments of a community; and (B) provides educational or related services to individuals in the community.” – Cornell Law

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) –

  • Diversity: Differences in racial and ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, and academic/professional backgrounds; people with different opinions, backgrounds (degrees and social experience), religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual orientations, heritage, and life experience (Definition adapted from Racial Equity Tools)
  • Equity: The absence of avoidable, unfair, or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically or by other means of stratification. Equity = Fairness and Justice (Definition taken from The World Health Organization)
  • Inclusion: Authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into the processes, activities, and decisions/policymaking in a way that shares power, recognizes and celebrates differences, ensures that people feel welcome and everyone has equitable access to opportunities. (Definition adapted from Racial Equity Tools)
  • Resource: Equity Language Guide

Health Equity – Everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty and discrimination and addressing lack of access to healthy food and safe environments, including parks and recreation, healthcare, good jobs with fair pay and quality education and housing.

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)   The conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.

Systems-change – Systems are the practices, policies and procedures of institutions, corporations, agencies and other organizations that influence the determinants of health, park access and environmental resilience. Improving systems—and the way they work together—is change approach to eliminating disparities in health, access and resilience. - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Systemic Racism – “Policies and practices that exist throughout a whole society or organization, and that result in and support a continued unfair advantage to some people and unfair or harmful treatment of others based on race.  – Cambridge Dictionary



Appendix B- Sample Workplan

Please ensure that your objectives are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based. Below is an example – please use the  Applicant Work Plan Template to design your 3-objective work plan and submit with your application in OpenWater.


SMART Objective 1: Establishment of SNAP enrollment and assistance program in partnership with local Health Department at one park and recreation site by December 31, 2020. 

Expected Outcome (cumulative goals):

E.g. Training of two staff to complete SNAP enrollment and assistance

Outcome Performance Measure(s):

E.g. 15 people connected to SNAP


Performance Measures(s)

Partners Involved

Partner Roles


Activity Completion Date

E.g. Collaborate with local Health Department to establish SNAP enrollment and assistance at one P&R site

# staff trained

# people connected to SNAP

Health Department

 To assist P&R with obtaining license to become SNAP enrollment site

E.g. June 2020-Dec 2020

Dec 2020





Appendix C- Budget Template

Please use the  Grantee Budget Template  to design your proposed budget and submit with your application in OpenWater.

Grant Budget

NRPA Allocation Year 1

NRPA Allocation Year 2







Travel to NRPA Training Oct 2023






Marketing (Printing, promotion, advertising, other)









Meeting Expenses (meals, facility, equipment, other)





















ANNUAL EXPENSES (Should total $45,000 each year)



TOTAL EXPENSES (Should total $90,000)