Since 2011, the Hunger Mountain Cooperative Community Fund has distributed a total of $52,952 through 43 community grants. These annual grants provide financial support to businesses, organizations, and initiatives that further the Co-op’s mission of building dynamic communities of healthy individuals, sustainable local food systems, and thriving cooperative commerce.
Seven organizations benefited from our 2018 community grants, for a total of $7,650 donated. Read their stories below. If you are in central Vermont, have a project that fits within our mission, and are looking for modest financial support, we would love to hear about it. Applications for 2019 grants from the Community Fund are now available and can be found here.
Salvation Farms received $1,500 towards outfitting their Lamoille Valley Gleaning cooler space. Theresa Snow, Executive Director, notes they are waiting for the building renovations before they can complete the HMCCF funded project. “When the renovations are complete, we will use the HMCCF funds to outfit the building with shelving, pack tables, storage supplies, racks, things like that. There may be a pallet jack, rolling carts, stuff we will need once we move in.”
Theresa adds that these improvements will allow the organization to do more sorting and engage more volunteers. It may also open up opportunities for share distribution through programs such as health care share or fair food share. When their space is done, their program options and versatility will have increased while also providing them with a feeling of stability
“It will allow us to really serve the greater community. It will really help us move more food into the local community and engage more volunteers and partners,” Theresa says. “There may be as much as one million pounds of food in Lamoille County that is available for collection and distribution. We will be able to help farmers feed their community in a way that they can’t. The HMCCF grant is helping make that possible.”
Capstone Community Action received $1,000 towards adding freezer capacity to their food shelf. A new double door freezer was installed at their facility last month.
“The new freezer allows us to open our doors daily with more available product, reduce wait times, and provide a better selection for our customers. It improves our efficiency because the staff does not need to restock as often during the day, allowing for better interactions with customers who may not be familiar with some products,” says Morgan Brown, Development Coordinator at Capstone. “More importantly, as the Food Shelf is often the first contact customers have with Capstone, it allows staff time to build relationships with customers and make appropriate referrals, such as 3 Squares Vermont benefits or connecting them with other Capstone services. The Community Kitchen Academy students (hands-on food industry training program for at-risk Vermonters) are benefiting as well through increased training opportunities and preparing more packaged meals from rescued food. All of these improvements create a more dignified shopping experience for our customers.”
Ananda Gardens received $500 towards a barn retrofit for their wash/pack station. The money helped pay for one-fourth of the coast for the materials purchased to insulate the barn, which has all been installed, along with a number of other improvements.
“We are now working towards making the final improvements so the space will be useable. We will be installing a small wood stove, refinishing the old cement floor and installing a floor drain, and bringing electricity to the barn, hopefully all by spring,” says Farm Manager Patrick Sullivan. “The total cost of this phase of the project will be around $15,000. The HMCCF grant of $500 helped us with a modest financial contribution towards our goal of creating a safe and comfortable work environment to process vegetables year round. I should also add that we are very grateful for the help, as the infrastructure costs of farming are very high. Everything helps, and we make sure to be as resourceful as we can so that our access to funds goes a long way in helping us create a local organic farm for our community.”
Another Way Community Center received $1,500 towards a commercial kitchen stove upgrade. They are currently in the process of working out the details for the purchase of the stove.
Good Samaritan Haven received $1,150 towards purchasing a new commercial freezer, which they use daily.
“We really appreciate the new freezer that we were able to purchase with your generous grant,” says Judi Joy, GSH’s Shelter Manager. “I get a lot of calls from people who want to donate food, and without the freezer, I would not be able to say, ‘Yes.’ Many of our meals are donated, but we frequently have to have food in the house to prepare meals for our 30 Guests, and without the frozen food we have on hand, we would be hard-pressed to provide for everyone. Without the freezer, I would have had to refuse many turkeys, hams, big pots of various soups, and prepared casseroles. The freezer has been a blessing for us! Thank you so very much!”
Twin Valley Senior Center received $1,500 towards a commercial freezer purchase, which will allow the Center to use more locally sourced food. Having the commercial freezer will allow them to purchase, or receive through donation, larger quantities of fresh produce for use at a later date.
“Having the commercial freezer allows the center to freeze fresh, local produce at its peak, and use it when fresh produce is in shorter supply and more expensive. So, seniors are getting more nutritious food, more locally sourced food, and for less expense,” says Rebecca Schrader, the Center’s volunteer grant writer. “The frozen produce will be used in both of the center’s meal programs – hot meals served three days a week at the center, and Meals on Wheels. Secondarily, the freezer simply provides more freezer space than we currently have, and our programs are in high demand, so we can purchase other food items in bulk, also saving money that can then be used in the center’s other programs.”
Steadyfoot Farm received $500 towards increasing cold storage capacity. They are currently in the design and planning stages and are are looking forward to increasing capacity this growing season. That storage will be used primarily for fresh produce, including summer vegetables and winter greens.
“It will fulfill our need to maintain ideal storage temperatures throughout various seasonal conditions, especially because we are anticipating an increase in production over the next year with the addition of a high tunnel on our farm,” says Steadyfoot’s Allison Gulka. “Because our main markets are small local grocery stores, increased cooler space will enable us to harvest and store crops more efficiently, and increase the quality and quantity of local foods that we can bring to small grocers in our area. This is important to us because we feel that local farm products should be accessible to everyone in small communities. In the longer run, we plan to repurpose this cold storage space for lagering farm-brewed beers as our business grows.”
Applications for this year’s round of grants are now being accepted and can be found here. Awards range from $100 to $2,500, and priority is given to smaller-scale projects that support local food systems. Completed applications are due by Tuesday, Sept. 3. Grant recipients will be announced at the Co-op’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Photo Courtesy of Salvation Farms