Employee-driven program fosters local impact throughout Hunger Action Month
CHICAGO, Sept. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- In support of Hunger Action Month and its commitment to combating food insecurity, the Conagra Brands Foundation has announced the 2023 recipients of the "Nourish Our Community" grants. Through these grants, 20 nonprofits across 10 states are awarded funding, totaling $350,000. The grants will help to create positive social impact in the communities where its employees live and work.
Each September, the Nourish Our Community grants are distributed to employee-nominated nonprofit organizations that address the issue of domestic hunger and food insecurity, cooking skills, nutrition education, healthy and active lifestyle and/or urban agriculture. In addition to the initial nominations, Conagra employees play an integral role in the review, analysis, discussion and selection process, with the final slate of grant recipients being determined by a cross-functional committee of employees.
"For over a quarter of a century, the Nourish our Community grant program has encouraged and empowered our employees to take a stand against hunger and food insecurity within their local communities," said Robert Rizzo, Senior Director, Conagra Brands Foundation. "These nonprofits do important work that has a meaningful impact on the lives of children, teens, adults and seniors in our community. Through these partnerships, we are not only raising awareness, but providing essential funding to support vital direct services reaching many Americans that are impacted by food insecurity."
Hunger Action Month, a Feeding America initiative, aims to raise awareness for and take action on the issue of food insecurity in the United States. Conagra Brands Foundation's longstanding partnership with Feeding America includes a unique combination of efforts that involve employee volunteerism, product donations and cash contributions. Conagra's philanthropic efforts support national research that increases the collective understanding of the issue of hunger and its impact on vulnerable populations and diverse communities; direct service that improve access to nutritious and culturally relevant food through capacity building efforts that increase front line hunger relief agencies efforts to better serve the community and, national efforts to advance equity, diversity and inclusions efforts. Conagra also provides significant product donations that are distributed to Feeding America's network of 200 food banks.
More information about each of the "Nourish Our Community" grant recipients can be found below:
AREA NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICE CENTER (MN)
Project: Balanced Food Supply to Help More Families
Funds provided by the Conagra Brands Foundation support the Waseca Area Neighborhood Service Center's effort to replenish its pantry with nourishing food choices and fill its freezer with protein. This assortment of food is vital to meet the dietary needs of individuals or families who visit the organization when they need it most. This initiative ensures that those facing food insecurity will readily have access to nutritious food options.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Thalia S. – Waseca, MN
BACK PACK BLESSINGS (GA)
Project: Weekend Food Back Packs
Back Pack Blessings fills backpacks with a variety of nonperishable, child-friendly foods. These backpacks are distributed to elementary students, so they have something to take home over the weekends when their food access might be limited. The Conagra Brand Foundation funding helps keep costs low while ensuring the availability of 600 backpacks filled with food for the students who attend Fair Oaks Elementary School.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Stacy R. – Atlanta, GA
BIG MUDDY URBAN FARM (NE)
Project: Impact Expansion
The Conagra Brands Foundation's grant supports the growth of the Aspiring Farmer Residency program, which tackles food insecurity by training community members to become leaders in local food systems and urban farming. With this funding, the organization can welcome two additional Aspiring Farmers into the program and amplify its impact, contributing to the distribution of at least two additional tons of fresh, locally grown produce to be distributed to the community through local markets and free food distributions.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Molly N. – Omaha, NE
BLESSINGS IN A BACKPACK (KY)
Project: Weekend Backpack distribution in Southeast Michigan
Blessings in a Backpack provides school-age children with backpacks containing enough food to alleviate hunger through the weekend. This grant will serve children residing in Macomb, MI. Beyond providing meals, the program eliminates the barriers to learning that stem from inadequate food access, enabling students to take advantage of educational opportunities. Through this initiative, schools have observed improvements in students' test scores, attention spans, attendance rates, and behavior.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Krystal K. – Macomb, MI
BRIDGE TO HOPE (WI)
Project: Hope for the Hungry
For nearly 40 years, Bridge to Hope has been offering shelter and assistance to individuals impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Bridge to Hope will utilize Conagra Brands Foundation funds to increase the variety of foods in its pantry by 50 percent. Furthermore, the funding will be used to provide "family-style" meals on a weekly basis to provide residents of the shelter access to well-balanced meals and opportunities to learn about healthy meal preparation.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Sara B. – Menomonie, WI
CHARITY BLOOMS (IL)
Project: Enhance Outdoor Cooking Classes
The Conagra Brands Foundation grant supports improvements to expand the capacity of the outdoor kitchen classroom and will enhance educational programming to serve additional students. The outdoor cooking classroom improvements will allow them to double the number of students they can accommodate in the education programs. The nonprofit will also engage with professionally trained chefs to enhance the educational content to improve the quality of the learning experience.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Brenda J-L. – Chicago, IL
COMPLETELY KIDS (NE)
Project: Weekend Food Program
Completely KIDS is committed to empowering and educating children and families. The allocated funds will help purchase healthy food items for take-home food bags, a component of the Weekend Food Program. The Weekend Food Program is designed to ensure that every child participating in its afterschool program has access to nutritious food to sustain them over the weekend when a meal is not guaranteed. This program provides over 800 take-home bags of food per week.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Brittany R. – Omaha, NE
EVERY SOUL MATTERS MINISTRIES (AR)
Project: Continuing Hunger Relief While Providing Healthy Eating
The Nourish Our Community grant will support the expansion of Every Soul Matter's food pantry, monthly community meals, and door-to-door grocery distribution. Additionally, the funding will support its mobile kitchen, which will be utilized to prepare and distribute meals throughout Northwest Arkansas.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Rebecca G. – Fayetteville, AR
FEEDING OUR COMMUNITIES PARTNERS (MN)
Project: Youth Hunger Relief
Feeding Our Communities Partners serves students in grades K-12 who live in food-insecure households, offering them child-friendly and nutritious food to be consumed throughout the weekend, during school breaks, and during summer months. The funding will purchase food that adheres to USDA nutrition guidelines and has been fully vetted by nutrition experts and specialists. This program serves over 1,300 students across six school districts in the greater Mankato Area each week.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Brittany R. – Mankato, MN
GIRLS INC. OF WASHINGTON COUNTY (MD)
Project: Kids Café
Girls Inc. is dedicated to serving young women within the community through impactful programs that offer them access to healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, promoting the adoption of positive, long-term eating habits. This grant supports its Kids Café, which provides daily snacks, breakfast, and lunch. The girls in the program are involved in planning the menu, budgeting, and incorporating produce they grew from the organization's garden into the meals.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Susan H. – Hagerstown, MD
GROW JACKSON (MI)
Project: Community Garden
Grow Jackson's Community Garden project aims to educate senior citizens and young people by promoting changes in behavior toward appreciating the importance of fresh food. The Conagra Brands Foundation's support enhances the production capability of their garden network, thereby increasing access to fresh food and vegetables.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Matt S. – Archbold, OH
JUSTICE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS NEBRASKA (NE)
Project: Nourishing our New Neighbors Project
Justice for our Neighbors Nebraska, dba Immigrant Legal Center + Refugee Empowerment Center is Nebraska's largest nonprofit immigration legal services provider and one of three federally recognized resettlement agencies in Nebraska. Funding from Conagra will support the first week of food for clients served by the organization. This will ensure clients' new homes are fully stocked with food and ready for the family's arrival. Immigrant Legal Center + Refugee Empowerment Center estimates a total of 400 clients will be served through this project.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Julie P. – Council Bluffs, IA
NO MORE EMPTY POTS (NE)
Project: Community Harvest
No More Empty Pots is committed to connecting individuals and groups to improve self-sufficiency, food security, and economic resilience of urban and rural communities through advocacy and action. Funding from the Conagra Brands Foundation will benefit the Community Harvest Program, a multi-faceted strategy to connect people with locally sourced, fresh, affordable food, and teach them to use primarily plant-based ingredients to prepare nutritious meals.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Lanesa B-H. – Omaha, NE
NORTHERN ILLINOIS HELPING HANDS FOOD PANTRY (IL)
Project: Food Pantry Logistics
Northern Illinois Helping Hands Food Pantry's mission is to provide nutritious food and resources for neighbors with dignity, equity, and convenience. This grant will help the food pantry purchase a new cargo van, which will be used in facilitating food donation pickups and their weekly meal delivery service benefiting seniors and homebound clients.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Evan T. – Chicago, IL
SAVING GRACE PERISHABLE FOOD RESCUE (NE)
Project: Nourishing People, Nurturing the Planet
Saving Grace's goal is to connect perishable food from local food purveyors to local nonprofits that feed the community, while simultaneously raising awareness and educating the community about food waste and hunger. Grant funding will support its Nourishing People, Nurturing the Planet initiative, in which drivers pick up excess food from grocery stores, caterers, event venues, and restaurants and deliver same day to hunger relief agencies. This grant will help expand operations into Council Bluffs, IA.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Stephanie N. – Omaha, NE
STANDUP FOR KIDS (GA)
Project: Homeless Youth Food Assistance in Orange County, CA
StandUp for Kids (SUFK) is a national nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of youth homelessness in local communities across the country. Funding will support efforts in Orange County, CA and will aid in the purchasing of food and water for the SUFK OC Food Pantry. The SUFK OC Food Pantry supplies water, nutritious groceries, meals, snacks, and fast-food gift cards to youth who are between 12-24 years old.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Kelly B. – Irvine, CA
STEPPING STONES OF DUNN COUNTY (WI)
Project: Food Pantry Operations
Stepping Stones of Dunn County aims to strengthen the Dunn County community by providing food, shelter, and support to neighbors in need. This grant from the Conagra Brands Foundation will support the Stepping Stones Food Pantry. The pantry is open five days a week, and distributes frozen food, bread, dairy, and meat to neighbors. Funds will be used to purchase food for distribution to neighbors in Dunn County, WI.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Jeff S. – Menomonie, WI
THE TEEN CENTER (NE)
Project: A Brighter Future of Food Access
The Teen Center in Omaha has a mission of promoting opportunities for students through intentional afterschool programming that provides education, exposure, and mentorship. The Nourish Our Community grant will fund a student-led after-school snack program, including educating teens on nutritious snacks and ingredients. Funds will also benefit the Teen Center's food pantry, providing students with food to fuel them as they successfully complete their educational requirements.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Kristi R. – Omaha, NE
YOU FEED THEM MISSIONAL FOOD PANTRY (IN)
Project: Food Pantry Initiatives
You Feed Them Missional Food Pantry is committed to providing food to anyone facing hunger. Funding from the Conagra Brands Foundation will help facilitate their food distribution program. Over the last year, You Feed Them has distributed bags of groceries and toiletries to people in need in the Indianapolis area. Funds will be used to purchase food for distribution to the community.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Craig A. – Indianapolis, IN
YOUTH EMERGENCY SERVICES (NE)
Project: Street Outreach Pantry
Youth Emergency Services (YES) assists unstably housed youth by providing critically needed resources that support their desire to be self-sufficient. This grant will support its Street Outreach Program and its work to provide hot meals and pantry bags for youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. With the support of the Conagra Brands Foundation, YES will expand food access for youth and young adults across Omaha.
Nominated by Conagra Brands employee: Holly A. – Omaha, NE
About Conagra Brands
Conagra Brands, Inc. (NYSE: CAG), headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, Conagra Brands combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The company's portfolio is evolving to satisfy people's changing food preferences. Conagra's iconic brands, such as Birds Eye®, Duncan Hines®, Healthy Choice®, Marie Callender's®, Reddi-wip®, and Slim Jim®, as well as emerging brands, including Angie's® BOOMCHICKAPOP®, Duke's®, Earth Balance®, Gardein®, and Frontera®, offer choices for every occasion. For more information, visit www.conagrabrands.com.
About Conagra Brands Foundation
Conagra Brands Foundation believes everyone has a right to healthy and nutritious food knowing that food insecurity exists in every U.S. county. The Foundation partners with exceptional national and local nonprofits with high-impact programs located in the communities where we live and work. By focusing our efforts within five areas: Direct Food Access, Cooking Skills, Nutrition Education, Healthy and Active Lifestyles and Urban Agriculture, we are able to be a leader in the fight against food insecurity in North America.
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