FoodRaising Friends Foundational Food for Families
FoodRaising Friends, Inc.
The mission of FoodRaising Friends (FRF) is to remove barriers and improve access to food for children at risk or experiencing hunger in the local area. FRFs’ desire is to be part of the movement that begins by ending childhood hunger locally, and substantially impact the cycle of poverty for children in the community. Founded in 2016, FRF began by providing food for Christmas for students in the Santa Rosa Head Start Program. FRF found that every school had pockets of significant poverty where children were experiencing hunger. FRF has chosen not only to pursue adding those schools to the program but is also advocating in the community to bring the realities of childhood hunger to the community's attention. The bags of food from FRF feed the entire household - not just the child - so parents, grandparents and siblings all receive nutritious meals. Children can be separated from the stress of hunger and poverty and be well fed during often scary school breaks. Bags of food are distributed for the extended breaks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, Summer Break, and any special circumstances, such as the COVID-19 and hurricanes, that might keep children from school.
FRF operates in 900 square feet and a reconfiguration of the space is essential for growth. IMPACT 100 funds will be used to remove a wall to create open space to allow more volunteers and better flow for packing boxes and bags for distribution. Additional shelving is required to hold the weight of packed bags awaiting distribution. Replacing worn, slippery laminate flooring and missing flooring with non-slip flooring will improve service and safety. Grounds improvements, like adding grass and pavement, will be funded as well. A vehicle will be purchased, allowing increased large food pickups and deliveries throughout the service area. Grant funds will also be used to replace missing drywall and complete painting projects. Remaining funds will be used to purchase food and programmatic supplies to serve children and families. Capital improvements and a vehicle purchase will provide increased efficiency, better storage and climate control, and safety and security which will allow more families to be served and more volunteers to be engaged.
FRF aims to reach children that are the one in four children in the local community experiencing or at high risk for hunger. This project will enable FRF to increase physical capacity of volunteers within the building by 30%. Additionally, capacity for storage of food and packaged bags will increase by 50%. In each area of Santa Rosa County, at each school served or in the various programs that ask for FRF’s assistance, the pockets of most at-risk children are being found and served. During the typical school year, FRF serves 9 schools and programs on a consistent basis. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, FRF’s reach has expanded to 14 sites/schools. Every school that is adopted by FRF remains in the program year to year. In order to continue to grow and accommodate the additional students in the coming year, the efficiency of FRF’s pantry must be maximized and a larger capacity vehicle must be available on a consistent basis. IMPACT 100 grant funds will allow FRF to expand services to additional schools this current school year. Improved facilities, transportation, and the ability to purchase additional food supplies will increase services and enhance children’s and families’ lives and allow FRF to continue to have the unprecedented impact on hunger in Santa Rosa County it has.