Grant Application Entries
219 South 4th Street
P.O, Box 2384
Danville, Kentucky 40423
Amy Longwill Longwill
Grant Writing & Development
Grace Cafe Community Dinners
Grace Café, a community located in the heart of Danville, has evolved into a driving force in the work of food insecurity and hunger in our community. As we work to raise dollars and awareness, we also seek to be innovative in our efforts.
We propose to host four Community Dinners in 2020-21. These dinners would be a collaborative effort between Grace Café, social service organizations, schools and churches. The dinners would provide an outreach opportunity unlike any we have previously attempted. We see this as an opportunity to “take our café on the road” and bring the café to locations which would be more comfortable for some of our most vulnerable citizens: families with children and seniors. The Community Dinners would provide an opportunity to reach customers who can pay and pay-it-forward as well as customers who pay what they can or those would choose to come to the café and volunteer in exchange for the food on a future date. By hosting the Community Dinners at a familiar location, we anticipate making connections with our most fragile citizens and making them feel comfortable coming to the café on a regular basis and taking charge of their own food insecurity.
By collaborating with school systems and social service organizations who work with children and seniors, we will have the opportunity to specifically target outreach efforts. School staff, specifically Family Resource and Youth Service Center Directors, know exactly who would benefit from Grace Café meals and would participate in the outreach and invitation to attend a Community Dinner. The same is true for organizations working with low-income seniors such as the local senior center and meal delivery program for seniors.
By collaborating with other organizations, we also increase visibility for those who are able to pay and pay-it-forward. Many organizations have congregation members, staff and/or board members who have such capability.
Like all the meals at Grace Café, the meals at the Community Dinners will be nutritious and delicious. Ingredients will be sourced from local food producers to the greatest extent possible. Items will be fresh and in-season. Just like a meal at the café, Community Dinners will allow us to build community. When our community comes together to end hunger and food insecurity, our community becomes stronger.
Funds from Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation will be used as follows:
• Café Manager: 5 hours planning, 5 hours for the event; $20/hour $200
• 3 Kitchen Staff at the event, $14/hour, 5 hours for the event: $210
• $5/per person food
• Goal is to attract 100-200 people per dinner
• Based on 150 attendees $750
• Social Media
• Local Newspaper advertisement $250
• Tickets for use by social service partners
• Signage for event
• Surveys $200
Administrative Cost (15%) $241.50
Total Cost for Single Community Event $1851.50
Grand Total: Four Events $7406
Projected implementation dates are summer, fall, and two in the winter months. With an emphasis on children and families with young children we would like to schedule the first dinner close to the end of the school year in collaboration with staff of both local school districts. This provides school staff a touch point as the critical summer months begin. Additionally, scheduling the meals close to the peak of summer and winter months allows us to connect with seniors in what is considered their greatest time of need.
Boyle County has a population of 29,919 of which 88.2% are white, 7.1% African American and 3.3% Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019). The per capita income for the county was $24,933 in 2018. Additionally, 15.5% of individuals live below the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four lives on a yearly income of about $24,250. The need for hunger relief is significant.
Grace Café currently employs six full-time employees and three part-time employees.
In 2019, Grace Café hosted 369 unduplicated volunteers. Of those, 68 fulfilled required community service, 165 chose to do community service to give back to the community and 136 volunteered in exchange for a meal. Together, these individuals volunteered for 3720 hours.
Grace Café exists for one purpose: to provide food security to everyone in our community through systemic change in the way hunger charity is delivered. We follow three principles to bring systemic change to food security in Danville, KY:
1. We believe access to healthy food is a right, and we serve anyone who is hungry a fresh, healthy meal made from locally produced ingredients.
2. We believe in the dignity of our neighbors and treat every customer with love and respect. We do not profile for poverty. We do not know who is food insecure and who is not. Lastly, we work to create a community that prevents and eliminates the stigma of charity.
3. We believe we can only eliminate the cycle of systemic poverty by creating an alternative system. This means developing a local food economy that bypasses the industrial food system, developing a community space where all are welcome to work together and connecting individuals in ways that develop shared responses to the needs that arise.
Food insecurity creates dependency on food pantries and cheap, unhealthy, processed food. In this way it undermines both the dignity and health of our neighbors. Our community café model eliminates both outcomes. Those who experience food insecurity trade their dignity and health for the service of an industrial economy and food system. We aim to break that cycle first by ensuring access to food. Further, the food we prepare is made fresh from locally grown and produced ingredients to create nutritious and delicious meals.
Currently in Boyle County, it is estimated 14.3% of our citizens are food insecure. This equates to 4240 individuals not having access to nutritionally adequate foods. Additional statistics which support the need include:
• 22% of Kentucky’s children live in poverty.
• 16% of Kentucky’s population is food insecure
• 20% of children in Boyle County live in poverty
• 19.2% of Boyle County residents receive SNAP benefits
• 33% of Boyle County adults are considered obese
(SOUCRE: Kentucky County Health Rankings & Feeding America Roadmap)
A recently released report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (“SNAP is Good for Kentuckians’ Health, 10/23/2019) highlighted the connection between food insecurity and poor health. There is substantial research showing food insecurity contributes to poor health including conditions such as anemia, asthma, tooth decay, diabetes, mental health problems, hypertension and anxiety. Further, food insecurity is closely related to the likelihood of one or more chronic illnesses. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food insecurity was associated with $1834 in health care spending per food insecure adult nationally in 2016. Kentucky alone spent $854.7 million on food insecurity-related health care last year.
Grace Café implements the very purpose of Kentucky Social Welfare Foundation on a daily basis. We work alongside the most vulnerable and fragile individuals in our community to empower them to take charge of their hunger and food security.
There is no other place but Grace Cafe for those who are food insecure to access fresh, nutritious meals. In addition to providing a dignified means of satisfying hunger, the Café is also giving young people and the unemployed opportunities for job experience and references. This pertains to the Foundation’s work to support effective methods for self-help and training. Many of our volunteers are people who have never held a job or are working to reenter the workforce. We offer an alcohol-free, family friendly work environment with a strong sense of community. We do not check references or do background checks. All who are hungry and need a meal are welcome. While many volunteers are earning a meal, others are satisfying community service requirements (for court, housing or education) or volunteering at the Café as a way to give back. With 369 unduplicated volunteers in 2019, the Café is obviously filling a void for volunteer opportunities in the community. Another part of our mission is to address health issues by demonstrating how to cook and eat healthy, seasonal and locally sourced foods. Meals are prepared using organic, when possible, and unprocessed foods sourced from local farmers and growers. Customers learn how nutritious, fresh foods can be delicious, hopefully changing eating habits over time.
Through our strategic planning efforts and review of our twenty-five indicators that are tracked daily, we determined that while we believe we are reaching individuals in the 30-50 age bracket, we need to intensify our efforts to reach families with children and our seniors. After brainstorming with our advisory council, board of directors and staff, we created the Community Dinner approach to reach more senior guests and families with children.
There are two emergency food pantries in Boyle County: Community Friends Outreach and New Hope Food Pantry. Both are member agencies of God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington. There are also a few churches in the area that operate small scale food pantries, mostly providing dry and canned goods. However, Grace Café’s approach to hunger charity is to get in front of hunger by solving food insecurity. Hence, eliminating the need for emergency food programs.
Grace Café is unique among Kentucky feeding programs because of its vision to alleviate hunger through community-wide participation. It seeks to empower the community to take control of its hunger and nutritional challenges, creating an opportunity for everyone to participate and to gain knowledge about the problem and the solutions. Grace Café deals with the larger issue of social justice – helping people up and out of dependency and entitlement and promoting healthy lifestyles for all.
People turn to food banks not because they want to but because they have to. At Grace Café, people who are hungry sit down to a healthy, nutritious meal without the stigma of visiting a food pantry. And, they have the opportunity to give back and gain job experience by volunteering as cooks, cashiers, servers and cleaning and maintaining the café.
Grace Café is recognized as a strong community partner. We work with the social service organizations in our community to ensure those who need us are aware of what we do and how we can support individuals in their efforts to eliminate their own food insecurity.
Grace Café recently spearheaded the newly formed Coalition for a Hunger-Free Boyle County. Our membership consists of concerned citizens and those working to solve hunger (food banks and organizations which provide food vouchers). The objectives of the Coalition are to: provide awareness about hunger, food insecurity and its impact; avoid duplication of services; determine at a local level the numbers of people being served and the cost to organizations and community; and lastly, how we can work together to eliminate what brings us together: hunger and food insecurity.
Our local farmers and Farmers Market are our partners in our efforts to provide fresh, local and nutritious food for all. We work with our farmers to plan menus which include items in season, in abundance and/or easily accessible.
Volunteerism is critical for the success of Grace Café. Many churches support us financially as well as through volunteer efforts. We collaborate with local schools and organizations to offer volunteer opportunities for those needing required volunteer hours or those who simply want a way to give back to their community.
For the Community Dinners we will monitor attendance, donation amounts for those who pay it forward, those who pay what they can (current average for this type of ticket is $1.30) and those who commit to coming to the café to volunteer in exchange for a meal. We will provide the opportunity for guests to sign up for a volunteer shift at the café, whether it be in exchange for a meal or as a way completing community service. In addition, we will ask all guests to complete a brief 3-5 question survey at the conclusion of the dinner. Potential survey questions would indicate the likelihood of coming to the café and paying-it-forward, paying-what-they-can, or volunteering in exchange for a meal; a quality indicator for the food; how they learned of the dinner and suggestions for future community dinners.
Regarding Grace Café overall, effectiveness and outcomes are measured through our extensive tracking database. Among our measured indicators and projections for 2020:
• 25,000 Meals Served (17,128 served in 2019)
• 400 Unduplicated Volunteers (369 in 2019)
• 175 Volunteers for Food (136 in 2019)
• 800 Volunteer for Food Hours (686.5 in 2019)
• $50,000 Pay it Forward Donations ($36,878.25 in 2019)
Further, a recent (2019) Community Impact Study by Centre College staff and students found the following of Grace Café guests who were interviewed:
• 18% of guests had gone without food for an entire day
• 36% of guests indicate Grace Café has reduced the amount other food assistance programs are utilized
• 58% of guests indicate knowing they may eat at Grace Café makes them less worried about having enough to eat
Self-reported outcomes from our guests include improved health, improved nutrition, increased employability, acquired employment, and enhanced sense of community.
We track 25 indicators on a daily basis, five of which are mentioned above. The 2019 Community Impact Study was the second of its kind in two years. We hope to continue having this additional means of evaluation through our collaboration with Centre College. Since opening, we have consistently increased our meals served, volunteers, and guests (those who pay it forward, pay what they can and volunteer for food). We believe this is proof our mission is working in our community.
Sustaining our mission in future years equates to raising more dollars.
In 2019, our sources of support were as follows:
• Café Sales: $150,530 (41%)
• Individual Donations: $187,373 (49%)
• Corporate Sponsorships $9600 (3%)
• Grant Funding: $21,800 (6%)
• Fundraising: $12,580 (3%)
Based on our goal of serving 25,000 meals and our 2019 meal gap of $3.47, we need to generate $86,750 in revenue this year from grants, donations and fundraising. (The meal gap is defined as the Average Ticket/Suggested Donation minus the Average Actual Donation Per Meal.)
We are currently working to increase our outreach efforts by employing traditional restaurant industry marketing tools like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google and social media. By utilizing these tools, we will be able to attract more customers who are able pay and pay-it-forward.
As a leader in the community café movement, we are seeking diversified funders at the local, regional and national level. We are pursuing an additional five corporate sponsors. We are intensifying our grant seeking and grant writing efforts. We are actively seeking and intend to cultivate fifty new individual donors to the Café. We are also hosting a new and unique community fundraiser this year.
Grace Café does not have fees or charges. What we do have is a suggested donation for each meal at the Café. As previously stated, guests chose to pay and pay-it-forward, pay-what-what-they-can or volunteer in exchange for a meal.
In 2019, our average cost per ticket (or meal) was $12.21. The average donation per ticket was $8.74. This indicates what we refer to as our “meal gap”: $3.47/meal. Fundraising and grants allow us to close the meal gap. The gross sales for the Café in 2019 was $208,579.25.
In 2016, the KY Social Welfare Foundation funded $6,880.00 to “help expand outreach to food-insecure families with children in Danville and Boyle County.” Specifically, the grant subsidized 12 weeks of operational and marketing costs and to help build awareness for the Café’s “Saturday Family Dinner” program designed to reach families with children and youth who are experiencing food insecurity. Although we were awarded the grant in April, we strategically used the funds from July 1 to mid-September to specifically reach families and youth during the summer months when they are most vulnerable to food insecurity. Additionally, by waiting until August for the bulk of our promotion, we were able to work within the school system using the funds to distribute flyers to more than 1,000 Danville and Boyle County youth. During the 12-week grant period Grace Café served 429 Saturday Dinner meals compared to 399 meals served during the previous 12 weeks of Saturday dinners, just prior to the grant period. This represents an increase of 15.8%. The average amount donated/paid for a Saturday Dinner meal was $7.95, which is an 23.92% decrease compared to the average donation of $10.95 for all of the Saturday dinners prior to the grant period beginning in January 2016. The fact that the average donation dropped so significantly means that more people utilized the Café’s pay-what-you-can model to access healthy food for themselves and their families. In addition, awareness for our mission was also increased as the Café saw a 114% increase of volunteers working in exchange for meals during the grant period (July, August & September) indicating outreach efforts were successful.