SCHENECTADY – The Schenectady Foundation said it awarded $450,000 in grant funding to six nonprofits Wednesday that are leading projects “to reduce hunger and improve access to healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods.”
The money will be given to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, Schenectady Community Ministries, Rotterdam’s Messiah Lutheran Church, The Food Pantries for the Capital District, Capital Roots and The Schenectady Greenmarket, according to a news release issued by the organization.
The foundation said it hopes the grant program will build upon the roughly $600,000 it has already awarded to address food insecurity during the pandemic, as well as its food delivery initiative at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program was born out of the pandemic after it revealed the unmet needs in the community, according to the release.
“Our experience during the pandemic made it crystal clear that we needed to urgently and smartly make access to healthy food our top priority,” foundation Executive Director Robert Carreau said in the release. “This grant program is not just about hunger, and giving out more boxes of food. It’s about providing families with access, choice, compassion and healthy options.”
The food bank is creating a pilot program to improve food access in four targeted areas in the county: Princetown and Rotterdam Junction, Scotia and Glenville, Schenectady’s Stockade and Northside, and Schenectady’s Mont Pleasant neighborhood. The food bank will use the $184,400 it was awarded to hire liaisons from each community to make food programs that suit families in the area.
Schenectady Community Ministries will begin a project called Healthy Living 360 with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County, the city school district, and the Schenectady ARC. Healthy Living 360 will use the $100,600 to recruit 120 low-income families to share about what food they need and want, in order to learn the best ways to get quality food into city homes, the release said.
”The grant program strongly stressed involving consumers and stakeholders who are closest to the problem in the planning and evaluation of new projects,” foundation Director of Grants and Community Programs Kristi Milligan said in the release. “This approach is embedded in our first round of healthy food grants, and it is essential if we are truly going to understand the root causes of food insecurity and address them effectively.”
Messiah Lutheran will use $75,000 from the foundation as part of the work done in expanding its food pantry within its new multi-purpose community center within the former Trinity Reformed Church on Curry Road, obtained earlier this year when the two congregations merged.
The foundation is giving $50,000 to the Food Pantries of the Capital District to support its grocery delivery program, which makes over 150 monthly deliveries within Schenectady County, according to the foundation’s release.
Capital Roots will use $20,000 from the foundation to begin the Capital Region Food Policy Council. The goal of the council, according to the release, is to “strengthen each sector of the local food system, fostering greater collaboration between farmers, processors, distributors and consumers with the goal of developing more efficient and practical solutions to the problem of food insecurity.”
The Greenmarket will use $20,000 to subsidize the cost of community supported agriculture shares options from local farmers as part of a new food box program that will allow more lower-income people to benefit from the market’s produce. The Greenmarket will make the purchases at full price because many farmers cannot afford to offer the low-cost options, then it will offer low-income customers these shares at a reduced rate, according to the release.