Two people in front of food pantry shelves, one is holding a cardboard box full of fresh vegetables.

Foundation to Strengthen the Food Safety Net in Montgomery County

Colmar, PA – The North Penn Community Health Foundation recently awarded grants totaling $124,000 to four organizations in Montgomery County in support of its Food Security & Nutrition initiative.

The North Penn Community Health Foundation convened 50 food and nutrition and food safety net provider experts in summer 2012 to reflect upon two sentinel reports commissioned by the foundation that suggested the food security system in Montgomery County is not working as well as it could be. The group also confirmed report findings that issues of food insecurity vary significantly throughout Montgomery County.

“Montgomery County is among the healthiest and wealthiest regions in the Commonwealth, yet an estimated 10.5% of county residents, and 14.5% of children, have difficulty getting enough food,” said Russell Johnson, president and CEO of the foundation. “Food insecurity can have serious health consequences for residents with chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and depression.”

The foundation awarded $45,000 in planning grants to nine organizations in November 2013. Grantees each received $5,000 to explore, with a diverse group of local community partners, innovative approaches to reducing hunger and improving nutrition in their neighborhood or community.

In March, the foundation invited planning grant recipients to apply for a one year grant of up to $50,000 to further develop and implement their strategies, with an opportunity to renew for two additional years for a potential total of $150,000. Two planning grant recipients each received $50,000 grants. Two other planning grant recipients received smaller grants to help them continue to build internal capacity to better serve their clients.

The foundation was pleased to award the following grants:

  • $50,000 over one year to Manna on Main Street for a multi-prong effort to address childhood food insecurity in the North Penn region. Among the specific projects in this effort are the new summer meal program Manna is coordinating in conjunction with the North Penn School District and several area organizations that offer programs for children during the summer months.
  • $50,000 over one year to Philabundance to convene the Montgomery County Food Distribution Network, a collaboration of several nonprofit organizations in Montgomery County that have food pantries or soup kitchens, or provide technical and other assistance to emergency food providers. The network will analyze key sources of donated perishable food to streamline and maximize its acquisition and distribution to emergency food providers countywide.
  • $20,000 over one year to Catholic Social Services for operational support and to continue to engage a consultant to assist several food pantries and soup kitchens operating in Norristown to better coordinate services and improve access to food.
  • $4,000 over one year to Outreach House to develop its first strategic plan. Outreach House, part of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Collegeville, operates a food pantry and runs Job Club, which assists clients with resume writing, interviewing skills, job search techniques and other career supports to reduce food insecurity by increasing financial security through employment.