The Washington County Community Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded a $250,000 matching grant to Food Helpers, the new umbrella organization for the Greater Washington County Food Bank.
In July, Food Helpers initiated its new Community Outreach Program, which was specially designed to help the working poor, whose household income is just slightly above the income guidelines for the county-funded pantry system and other government food assistance programs.
“According to data released by Feeding America and the US Dept. of Agriculture, about 26,000 individuals in Washington County are food-insecure, but approximately 9,600 of these food-insecure individuals are not eligible for government-subsidized feeding programs. That’s 9,600 individuals in Washington County who experience hunger at some point during the month. These are the primary individuals that we seek to assist with our new Community Outreach Program,” remarked Connie Burd, Executive Director of Food Helpers. “To initiate the program, Food Helpers used $100,000 from its unrestricted reserves to purchase food for the program. We anticipate that food will last for four to six months serving 13 sites throughout the county, once per quarter, on a rotating basis. To be able to continue the program, and hopefully to serve each site once per month, we have launched a fundraising campaign to raise $500,000 for the Community Outreach Program.”
In the fall of 2019, the WCCF learned of Food Helpers’ plans to increase its services to serve rural and underserved areas of the county, targeting those who are slightly above the income threshold for the county-funded pantry system. The program was of immediate interest to the Foundation; however, the pandemic and other matters postponed the initiation of the new Community Outreach Program for the food-insecure until July 2021. Approximately 300 clients have been served through the Community Outreach Program from July 1 through today. In addition to food, clients are also receiving a health and beauty bag that includes 15 products such toothpaste, shampoo, liquid soap, and other donated items. Additionally, all August distributions include backpacks and back to school supplies for elementary and junior high school children, thanks to Food Helpers’ ongoing partnership with CentiMark.
WCCF President & CEO Betsie Trew stated, “Addressing the community’s unmet needs is an ongoing objective of the WCCF, and so it was an easy decision for us to support this program that is addressing an unmet need in our community. It gives me great pleasure to announce that we are issuing a $250,000 one-to-one matching grant to Food Helpers for the Community Outreach Program. The grant is being issued from the Foundation’s Community CARE Fund, and the Community CARE Fund Challenge grant will be paid in two equal installments, as Food Helpers secures the necessary donations from others. We chose to make this announcement today, approximately one month before our day of giving, WCCF Gives, so that Food Helpers will be able to utilize WCCF Gives to encourage and accept gifts. Contributions to Food Helpers during WCCF Gives will be increased by our bonus pool, and of course will count toward the match for this grant.”
The Community CARE Fund was created at the WCCF in late 2017 and has generously supported a multitude of charitable causes in the community, including small libraries located in rural communities throughout the county.
“Needless to say, we are extremely grateful for this generous grant,” remarked Christopher Claspy, Food Helpers Board President. “This financial support will certainly enable us to serve many more people who struggle with food insecurity. However, we are also very grateful to the Washington County Community Foundation for its confidence in Food Helpers as an organization. A grant of this magnitude signifies trust in us and recognition of our ability to implement new programs to address food insecurity. Having the Foundation’s endorsement is very meaningful to us.”
Those wishing to support the Community CARE Challenge Fund campaign through WCCF Gives on September 16 should visit www.wccfgives.org for details on how they may make a gift.
To learn more about the Community Foundation, please visit www.wccf.net.