By Matt Levin, Hunger Mountain Cooperative Community Fund Committee Member
As a member of the Hunger Mountain Co-op, I’m proud of our mission as a member-owned, community-based natural market. We are committed to building a dynamic community of healthy individuals, sustainable local food systems and thriving cooperative commerce. One of the ways that we try to make the mission a reality is by finding ways to make the most of the financial resources that we have available. Because of the generosity of members, and prudent investing in other successful co-ops, Hunger Mountain has built up a small fund we use to make modest grants to projects in our area that support our shared agenda.
Since 2011, our Hunger Mountain Cooperative Community Fund has distributed a total of $45,302 in community grants to support businesses, organizations and initiatives aligned with the co-op’s mission.
In recent years, the fund has made a huge difference for several dozen wonderful projects in our communities. These have included educational projects on food and nutrition, planting community gardens and orchards, helping new food-related businesses get started and established, construction of key infrastructure projects like community kitchens, and supporting efforts to ensure everyone has access to healthy food.
And our modest grants — averaging around $1,250 each — have made a difference. The Gospel Hollow Edible Park in Calais was a 2017 recipient (featured in photo). One of the project leaders told us, “The park would never have been founded without our 2017 HMCCF grant. These funds have been the driving force behind the creation of what is now a thriving community food and conservation resource.”
Last year, the fund was able to award $6,600 in grants, and we hope to award at least that much this year. Every year, we have many more applications than we can support, but with more funding, we will be able to do even more to support these vital projects in our community.
If you have a project that you think matches our mission and is looking for modest financial support, we would love to hear about it. Applications for 2018 grants from the Community Fund are now available, and can be found here.
Projects must demonstrate how they are supporting the co-op’s mission through their work. Awards range from $100 to $2,500, and our priority is to fund smaller-scale projects that support local foods systems.
Completed applications are due by Tuesday, Sept. 4. Grant recipients will be announced at the co-op’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, Nov. 1.
If you would like to support our work, I hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the fund. Checks should be made out to Hunger Mountain Co-op with HMCCF on the memo line and dropped off at our customer service desk or mailed to the Co-op.
The organizers of 2017 grant recipient Good Food, Good Medicine said it best: “This grant helps small community projects like ours to make a big impact on the lives of people in our central Vermont area due to the ripple effect that community building and education has.” The co-op is glad that we can do just a bit more to support these projects in our community. Please consider joining our effort by making a donation or submitting an application this summer.
Commentary ran in the Times Argus on July 11.