$100k RI Foundation grant will be used to purchase 300k pounds of food

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The holiday season just got a lot brighter for patrons of struggling food pantries in Cranston and Warwick thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.

Sparked by a recent report that hunger is at a 10-year high in Rhode Island, the Foundation made the donation to the to the R.I. Community Food Bank and challenged Rhode Islanders to pitch in too during this time of extraordinary need.

"The purpose of this grant is not only to address the alarming increase in hunger in our state, but it's also hopefully to provide leadership and to inspire Rhode Islanders to support the charities of their choice as well as to help those in need going into the winter months," Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO said in a statement. 

The Food Bank will work with food pantries like the Edgewood Pawtuxet Food Closet at the Church of the Transfiguration on Broad Street and the Westbay Community Action Program Marketplace on Buttonwoods Avenue in Warwick to ensure hungry residents are fed this holiday season.

 The money will buy more than 300,000 pounds of staples such as baked beans, rice, tomato soup, canned carrots, corn and peas; and fresh produce – enough to provide an additional 372,000 meals to food pantries, soup kitchens and meal sites across Rhode Island.

“We’re so grateful for this generous gift from the Foundation,” said Andrew Schiff, the Food Bank’s CEO. “In addition to helping us purchase food, we hope it sparks more Rhode Islanders to take action and provide assistance to our neighbors in need.”

The announcement comes as proposed federal cuts to safety net programs threaten to overwhelm the state’s straining food pantries, which are already near capacity. According to the Food Bank’s 2017 Report on Hunger, hunger in Rhode Island is at its highest rate in 10 years.

“At the Food Bank, we’re already serving 57,000 Rhode Islanders each month through our network of member agencies,” said Schiff. “Cuts to safety net programs like SNAP and WIC will increase the number of people seeking food assistance and we will need to find additional support to serve them. In addition, many of our clients have already been without benefits for months due to the troubled launch of the state’s UHIP system.” 

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank distributes food through a statewide network of 155 member agencies including food pantries, meal sites, shelters, youth programs and senior centers. The Food Bank solicits food donations from the public and from the food industry, including supermarkets, food manufacturers and growers. To keep up with the high demand for food assistance, the Food Bank also acquires food at low cost from wholesalers. This year, the Food Bank distributed 9.5 million pounds of food. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. For more information, visit rifoodbank.org.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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