Food as a Tool: Impacting lives in the Community Mentally, Physically and Spiritually

Food as a Tool: Impacting lives in the Community Mentally, Physically and Spiritually

Grant Year: 2020 | Focus Area: Health & Wellness | Grant Amount: $106,000 | Grant Status: In Progress

Food as a Tool: Impacting lives in the Community Mentally, Physically and Spiritually

Ecomfort, Inc.

The mission of Ecomfort is to provide emergency assistance to the homeless and economically disadvantaged individuals of Escambia County. This assistance is comprised of emergency food, hot meals, job placement assistance, resource coordination and guided computer use. Ecomfort, Inc. was founded in May of 2007 as an outreach of Epps Christian Center, Inc. The organization has expanded services in the community, serving individuals and families. Ecomfort started off serving breakfast from 6:00 - 9:00 a.m. five days a week but has since added a food and clothing pantry that operates twice weekly. Ecomfort distributes frozen food, produce and dry goods to the community weekly, and works with other agencies to provide linking services to individuals. Food is used as a tool to interact and create relationships with people. After establishing relationships, Ecomfort can assist with identifying the root cause of an individual’s circumstances and refer them to resources in the community for longer term care. Based in the Englewood community, Ecomfort operates as a safe haven in the Pensacola and the Century communities. The team of regular and part-time volunteers are committed to helping.

Project Description

Ecomfort proposes to increase its capacity to feed the hungry, homeless and hurting by updating the building and purchasing equipment to acquire, store, secure, prepare and redistribute food efficiently and safely. Ecomfort’s doors are open daily to provide hot breakfast meals to the homeless and the needy. Typically, over 1,000 people monthly are served; and through the food and clothing pantry, which is open two days a week, 1,400 families are served monthly. In part due to COVID-19, Ecomfort has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people served. Even before the pandemic, the numbers had increased by 25% from the prior year. IMPACT 100 funds will be used for roof reconstruction and the purchase of a new stove, steam table, vent hood, walk in refrigerator, upgraded internet, Ring security system, remote temperature monitoring, and a branded van. Funding for the purchase of a food truck from another organization will allow Ecomfort to serve the needs of the community due to the pandemic. This project will allow Ecomfort to continue providing balanced meals prepared on-site, as well as to provide food to families that sustains them for weeks at a time.

Community Impact

The project will provide means for acquiring frozen food, dry goods, and produce, as well as the ability to store them safely and efficiently. The increased capacity of the soup kitchen will allow Ecomfort to serve more individuals. With the purchase of the outdoor refrigerator, the organization will be able to store more perishable food items to distribute to more people in need. Roof repairs will ensure that the building can continue to house the resources that are provided to the target population. A larger stove will produce even more hot meals for those served. A branded van will increase the amount of food distribution that takes place on a weekly basis. Increased internet speed will help clients using the resource center and help with security cameras and remote temperature monitoring of the walk-in freezer and refrigerator. Food is used as a tool to build relationships, tear down barriers, and allow Ecomfort to get at the root problem of a person experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty. Addressing these will allow for increased physical and emotional well-being and increased self sufficiency.