As we move through the recovery stage of the pandemic, the communities we serve continue to face an unprecedented need for nutritious food. We recognize that feeding everyone in need means we must distribute more food through the hunger relief system and expand points of access through agency partnerships. To support these efforts and lay the groundwork for sustainable growth, Food Lifeline recently awarded over $1.4 million worth of grants to our Redistribution Organization (RDO) partners. As the distribution hubs for agencies in their surrounding region, RDOs play a vital role in our network. Leading with a focus to remedy racial inequities, these investments are critical in our work towards a hunger-free tomorrow These grants will allow our partners to increase capacity and efficiency in their warehouses and feed more members of our community.
To develop these grant projects, we took a new approach. Instead of relying on grant applications alone, we asked our partners to engage in ongoing conversation throughout the application process. Together we worked with our partners to identify the best opportunities for growth and to ensure their projects would directly benefit communities that are disproportionally impacted by food insecurity.
We would like to celebrate our grant recipients and share how they will be moving forward with this money. We cannot wait to continue to partner with these RDOs and see these projects get underway!
Grant Amount: $250,000
The Thurston County Food Bank will be using this grant primarily to fund renovations to their warehouse and distribution center. They will be adding office space for staff, additional push back racking to use their existing warehouse space more efficiently, and new dry storage space (pending permit approval). These improvements will allow their warehouse to receive and distribute more food donations each year, and with more food, they’ll be able to partner with more local agencies and increase their reach outside of the county.
“As we begin to regain our footing and move into the “recovery” phase of this pandemic we are excited to partner with Food Lifeline as the recipient of an RDO Capacity Grant. In our work to eliminate hunger in our local community for the past 49 years, this grant furthers our growing capacity to work with new partners in adjacent counties while building and growing relationships in Thurston County. We believe that this grant supports our commitment to responding to food insecurity in our local community and region.”
Grant Amount: $350,000
To better serve their community, Volunteers of America Western Washington will be using their grant to dramatically increase their storage and distribution capacity. VOAWW will soon move into a new 36,000+ sq. ft. warehouse, and they’ll use their grant to cover one years’ rent on this new building. Having more space will allow them to distribute significantly more food to their community and add new agency partners. Specifically, they are aiming to onboard new partners that focus on providing nutritious food for underserved communities.
“VOAWW is very excited for this new opportunity and what this space will mean to the communities we serve. With space this size, the possibilities are endless.”
Grant Amount: $234,000
Community Action of Skagit County will be splitting up their grant to purchase a new cooler unit, a refrigerated truck, and to increase their current part-time fundraising staff to full-time. These investments will allow them to receive and distribute more food, increase the distance they can safely deliver perishable food, and provide the resources for consistent and sustainable fundraising growth. Throughout this process, they will maintain a focus on building relationships with BIPOC-owned and supported farms and increasing their availability of culturally relevant foods.
“The RDO Capacity Grant will increase the ability of Community Action of Skagit County to source, transport, store, and distribute local produce and other perishable foods. This will also ensure that our work to source culturally relevant produce from area farms continues to grow both in terms of sourcing and distribution. Furthermore, the grant’s investment in our fund development activities will sustain our ability to react quickly and appropriately to meet the needs of our community.”
Grant Amount: $325,000
Bellingham Food Bank will be focusing their grant on improving efficiency in their warehouse. They will be hiring a consultant to review their operations and identify areas for improvement and investment. Solutions will include space optimization, implementation of an inventory management system, and a docking schedule platform.
“Bellingham Food Bank is thrilled to receive a capacity grant from Food Lifeline. We will use it to closely examine all aspects of our warehousing practices with a Six Sigma/Lean expert. This support will help us maximize efficiencies in our warehouse which will lead to more food distributed throughout Whatcom and San Juan Counties.”
Grant Amount: $298,000
Lower Columbia Community Action Program will be using their grant to purchase a new forklift, a van to be used for home and agency deliveries, materials for expanding their dry storage capacity, and adding for a new warehouse staff position. These increased efficiency measures will allow them to onboard more agency partners, and the new van will help them to keep up with additional deliveries as they expand their reach.