The Food Connection at UK invites proposals for

Student Opportunity Grants and Just Food Grants

Due March 30, 2019


The Program

The University’s agreement with Aramark to operate UK Dining created an endowment to enhance student opportunities for study of food and food systems, and which contribute to the Food Connection’s mission of promoting vibrant and sustainable agro-food systems. Proceeds of the endowment are distributed by the Food Connection at UK through this grants program. 

Proposals clearly related to food or food systems will be accepted from any program at the University of Kentucky, until March 30. Priority will be given to proposals which advance undergraduate or graduate student research, innovation in instruction, experiential education, community engagement, or co-curricular activities. Projects supporting continuing costs of instruction, e.g., class field trips, will be considered but with secondary priority.

Projects in food technology, food economies, food and culture, nutrition, health, or food production will all be considered. Multi-disciplinary projects are encouraged as are projects from the social and life sciences, arts, and humanities that address food systems in creative ways.


Proposals must include a University of Kentucky faculty or staff member as project leader or co-leader. Projects may be initiated or co-led by students, so long as a faculty or staff leader is identified. Students may be named and listed as co-leaders or participants; however proposals will be accepted if the specific student participants have yet to be identified.

Collaborators and co-leaders may include individuals not employed by or enrolled at the University. Community engagement will be a positive factor in proposal evaluation. Participation of, or collaboration with UK Dining is not required but will be a positive factor.

Project leaders who have received awards in previous years may submit, but must attach final or progress reports to new proposals.

Project Funding and Requirements

This is an annual program that funds projects to be completed by the end of the following fiscal year.  Up to $40,000 is available in the FY20 year (to be completed by July 1, 2020). A maximum of $5,000 per student participant will be considered. Grants benefiting multiple students may be awarded for as much as $10,000. This year we also have an additional pool of funds in collaboration with Just Food, a campus-wide initiative spearheaded by The Center for Equality and Social Justice and funded by a Sustainability Challenge grant. Specifics on the Just Food program are detailed later in this document.

Operating costs, travel, small equipment and student compensation may be included in budgets. However, student stipends or wages may not exceed $1,500/semester for undergrads, $2,500 for grad students.

Project leadership must include a faculty or staff member whose home unit/department agrees to manage the dispersal of funds. Funds normally will be distributed at project completion by reimbursing project expenditures by the leader’s budget unit, though other arrangements can be considered when essential. 

A final report must be completed and all funds encumbered within 1 year of the award starting date.  Typically projects are funded from July 1 to June 30. Extensions or continuations will be considered for sufficient reason. Funded projects will submit a brief mid-year progress report to the Food Connection. Participation of leaders and/or participating students in an annual poster session open house is expected.

General Application

Proposals should be submitted as a Word file attached to an email to Proposals should follow the outline below and not exceed 6 pages length:

  1. Project Title
  2. Concise summary of the project, including the project’s contribution to the promotion of vibrant and sustainable agro-food systems
  3. Project plan including goals, significance, methods/approach, and timeline
  4. Description of student participation and resulting benefits, including number of students, how they will be selected, and their roles
  5. Measures of success
  6. List of team members, including leader and collaborating faculty, staff, students or community with name, title, position and concise statement of expertise or qualifications
  7. Itemized budget

Just Food Applications

Applicants who wish to be considered should indicate their interest in their cover letter, along with a CV (resume). Along with the above application sections, Just Food applicants should include submit a maximum 500 word discussion of how their project engages issues of racial justice. Just Food projects must occur between May and December of 2019, and must include their plan to complete the project in that timeframe in their timeline.

Successful applicants will be matched with one of three faculty mentors with expertise in food systems research. Recipients, and faculty mentors, will be invited to present at a Just Food symposium in February 2020.

Questions specific to the Just Food program can be directed to Dr. Chhaya Kolavalli at

Review and Funding

All grant proposals will go through the same review process and will be eligible for funding from either program. Meaning, proposals submitted for the Just Food project will also be considered for Student Opportunity Grant funding should we receive proposals in excess of available funds.

Consult the Food Connection website for examples of past projects funded and additional information. Proposals received by March 30 will be reviewed by a committee of Food Connection-affiliated faculty and staff and be considered for funding commitments during the July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020 fiscal year. Email proposals or forward questions to:, or feel free to call 257-7286.