Impact grants fuel collaboration to address food insecurity, healthy foods & job training

The Community Foundation seeks to invest in programs that allow Monroe County to take advantage of its most compelling opportunities and address core issues facing our community. Given our focus on the long-term success of Monroe County, we seek out projects that offer the potential for lasting change.

We have found that grant proposals for programs that are innovative, transformative, and solution-oriented while demonstrating long-term sustainability are good predictors for success. We also believe that the greatest impact is achieved when multiple organizations come together and collaborate to address a community need or opportunity.

We’re pleased to share how Hoosier Hills Food BankSouth Central Community Action ProgramGrowing Opportunities, and Stone Belt are working together to address food insecurity, healthy foods, and job training in our community. Watch the video above to learn more.

Over the years, the Community Foundation has awarded several Community Impact Funding Initiative grants that have made this collaboration possible. The Hoosier Hills Food Bank received an Impact Grant in 2011 to install a high-capacity, walk-in fresh food cooler, supplying 84 percent more produce to regional community kitchens, pantries, short-term shelters, and member agencies.

In 2015, Hoosier Hills Food Bank received another Impact Grant to facilitate the purchase of the Garden Route on Wheels, a refrigerated delivery van to make it easier to distribute fresh produce and healthy food on a regular basis.

In 2014, the Community Foundation awarded an Impact Grant to the South Central Community Action Program to support the development of Growing Opportunities. Growing Opportunities is an urban hydroponic greenhouse that provides job-training to low-income people with barriers to employment, such has people with disabilities. Stone Belt clients work in the greenhouse learning transferrable job skills and gaining confidence before entering the workforce in the community.

Growing Opportunities sells its lettuce and produce to local groceries and at the Farmer’s Market. It has also donated excess produce to local food pantries and the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. This year, we’re thrilled to share that Hoosier Hills Food Bank received an additional grant from the Walmart Foundation, allowing it to purchase at least 250 heads of lettuce each week from Growing Opportunities for distribution across member agencies and through its mobile pantry program.

“We never expected that the Hoosier Hills Food Bank grants would intersect with the workforce training grant we funded in support of the Growing Opportunities program,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “However, the power of collaboration has grown exponentially as HHFB and SCCAP have taken their grants beyond our original expectations. This translates to increased impact and the best possible use of the dollars entrusted to the Community Foundation.”