Fair Food Foundation Folds
Count us among the shocked and saddened fans of the Fair Food Foundation who learned this week that the foundation had ceased grant-making operations and was in the process of shutting down. Established in mid-2007, the foundation is headed by Oran Hesterman and has its office on Main St. In a posting on the foundation's web site, Hesterman writes, "The funds of the donors to the Foundation were managed by Bernard L. Madoff, a prominent financial advisor who was arrested for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. Due to the loss of funding, Fair Food Foundation is no longer in a position to consider any requests for funding." Ann Arbor's Fair Food Foundation was one of many charities that fell victim to Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme.
When we interviewed Hesterman in June 2007, he told us that the foundation expected to hand out $15 million-$20 million a year in grants once they were up and running. According to tax documents, they awarded grants of roughly $120,000 in 2007 (when they were newly opened), including $5,000 to Detroit's Eastern Market Corporation. The funding was provided by a couple who initially wished to remain anonymous, but were later identified as Jeanne and Kenneth Levy-Church of New York, who also own a home in Ann Arbor. "The initial focus will be southeast Michigan, though we have aspirations to go national. It's a great opportunity for our community," Hesterman told us when the foundation opened. Now it is a sad loss to the local non-profits working to promote sustainable and community-based food systems.