Agency Enhancement Grant Highlights 2021

Chelo stand in front of two freezers. These freezers were purchased through the Food Bank's agency enhancement grants.
Church of the Good Shepherd St. Vincent de Paul in Pittsburg was recently able to purchase a 3-door freezer after being awarded an Agency Enhancement Grant from the Food Bank.

The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano is pleased to offer this annual grant opportunity for agencies who wish to enhance their service. We encourage agencies to think creatively and incorporate client feedback to come up with ways they can provide better service to their communities.

Agency Enhancement Grants (AEG) are grants between $5000-$25,000 awarded to pantries and soup kitchens looking to enhance service and build internal agency capacity. The goal of these grants is to facilitate a measurable expansion, grow capacity, or improvement in quantity or quality of service.

For the 2021 Grant period The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano received a record number of Agency Enhancement Grant Applications from our partner agency network in Contra Costa and Solano County. Out of the 65 requests we were able to fund 61 of the projects. This year we awarded $250,000 in total grant funds for this project.

Monument Crisis Center
The Monument Crisis Center received $14,000 to purchase electric pallet jacks and rechargeable batteries. In the weeks since they received the pallet jacks, we have been able to measure success in two ways. First, they are able unload deliveries much faster.

For example, our most recent food delivery was a total of 19,003 lbs. (one week worth of food). The use of electric pallet jacks allowed the delivery to be completed in under 45 minutes, allowing staff to focus on organizing the storage space and preparing for the day’s programs. Secondly, zero injuries have been reported since the electric pallet jacks have been in use, resulting in no staff down time.

Being fast and efficient is key when your pantry helps to serve all of Contra Costa County, and averages 1700 families in need each month!

 

Vacaville Storehouse

Vacaville Storehouse received a grant award of over $18,000. This money was used to purchase a 40’ temperature-controlled storage container that will allow them to provide more foods to their clients as well as a greater variety.

In their words “Some clients are forced to make a choice between something they want and something they need while grocery shopping. The smile on their faces when they get what they need and want while shopping at the pantry is priceless. Having variety and being able to provide families with a protein they need is a big deal to our clients.”

With the help of the new storage, Vacaville Storehouse has been able to feed 240 more families in need each month, bringing their monthly average up to 2900. This also helped them to distribute an extra 5300 pounds of food!

 

Lifelong Medical, William Jenkins

Lifelong Medical William Jenkins received $6000 to help fund the purchase of a commercial refrigerator, chest freezer, folding tables, and carts to help facilitate their weekly produce giveaways. They are now able to take more food from The Food Bank, including items that they may not have been able to take before like; diary and proteins, as well as a bigger variety of healthy veggies and fruit. This has enabled them to be able to offer food to clients during clinical visits that may be facing food insecurity, even though it is outside of their distribution times. They are also able to offer delivery for some senior and homebound clients. Working with local high school student volunteers, they were able to facilitate a survey of their clients regarding food insecurity, helping them to serve their community better. The students also learned food safety and how to properly pack a nutritious bag of food for each family, helping ensure healthy eating habits in future generations!

Community Action North Bay
Community Action North Bay received $3500 to fund a new, larger refrigerator. With the added refrigeration space, they are now able to take vegetables and

 fruits offered from The Food Bank that they would not have taken before. Items such as green onions, snap peas, and strawberries are some of the items now

 offered to pantry clients.

The new refrigerator has also freed up space in their smaller fridge for their “no-cooking bags”. These are bags distributed to clients that are without kitchens, or a way to cook food. The bags can now include perishable fruit, sandwiches, and cold drinks. Their unhoused clients sure appreciate that cold bottle of water on a hot day! Community Action North Bay has seen an increase in the number of clients that they are serving, now that they can include fresh, nutritious produce, more dairy and proteins, along with the regular shelf stable items.

St. Callistus
St. Callistus received $3000 to help double their capacity in freezer and refrigeration space. With the purchase of a new refrigerator and freezer, St. Callistus is now able to distribute meat, eggs, and dairy on a more consistent basis. They are able to safely store the perishable items they receive from The Food Bank, and take in more of these types of item donations. This insures that they have enough for food for all the families that attend their twice weekly distributions. With the addition of the extra cold storage no one is turned away, even those that may show up late, everyone leaves with enough nutritious food to take home with them.

 

Loaves and Fishes

Loaves and Fishes received $16,000 to purchase a new tilting skillet for their Martinez kitchen. That kitchen helps serve more than 1,100 meals to hungry clients

in the Pittsburg and Martinez dining rooms, as well as supporting meal service for their multiple locations throughout Contra Costa County. With the new tilt skillet, meals can be made in one large batch, instead of many smaller

batches. This helps to ensure the same, uniform quality for all of the meals. Clients not only appreciate the meals at Loaves and Fishes for the lifeline they provide, but also because the quality is so high. The tilt skillet also helps to prepare more meals, as the need has increased since the start of the pandemic.

Many clients rely on the daily meals at Loaves and Fishes as the pandemic has stretched food budgets to the breaking point. Having switched from in person dinning to “to go” meals, this also makes it easier to deliver to seniors, those with disabilities, and others that are homebound.