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Lorain County nonprofits benefit from Wal-Mart grants

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Two area organizations whose missions include feeding the hungry will be able to increase those efforts thanks to grant money awarded this week by the Wal-Mart Inc.’s charitable foundation.

The Lorain County Boys & Girls Clubs received $50,000 to buy a new food truck that will be used to deliver hot meals to low-income, food-insecure children throughout Lorain County.

Meanwhile, Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio received $75,000 to increase its efforts to make more protein-rich food available to its partner charities.

Both awards were part of some $840,000 awarded by Wal-Mart and its foundation during Thursday’s statewide “Day of Giving to Fight Hunger” program that saw funds presented to 18 nonprofit organizations across the state.

The Lorain County organizations received checks during an event in Cleveland.

The $50,000 awarded to the county’s Boys & Girls Clubs is a godsend, according to Mike Conibear, the organization’s executive director, who said the money will go far in feeding hungry youngsters.

“We’re just seeing more and more need throughout the county,” Conibear said. “This money is going to help us reach underserved kids and communities.”

The county’s Boys & Girls Clubs provide about 960 breakfasts and lunches as part of its summer vacation meals effort at 19 locations, including club outlets and community locations, such as churches.

The same number of kids also are fed during the school year through the club’s afterschool program, according to Conibear.

“This is a true blessing,” Conibear said of the $50,000 grant. “It’s always been a struggle to come up with needed funds to buy such a vehicle, and to keep our (existing) vehicles up and running. Transportation has always been something of a barrier for us.”

The new vehicle will enable hot and cold foods to be driven to distribution sites from a newly refurbished kitchen at Boys & Girls Clubs’ Oakwood facility on Pearl Avenue in Lorain.

Hot food will be delivered in boxes that will be slid into the side of the truck, enabling it to maintain desirable temperatures.

“This will allow deliveries to be done more efficiently,” Conibear said.

The vehicle also may be used for catering special community events.

Second Harvest Food Bank will use a $75,000 Wal-Mart grant to buy more protein-rich foods including eggs, which will be distributed by the food bank’s pantries and hot meals programs to boost the amount of protein in diets of those served by the program, according to Julie Chase-Morefield, Second Harvest’s executive director.

This marks the second year in a row that the food bank has received funds from Wal-Mart that primarily were used to buy eggs.

This year’s grant is a 50 percent increase in the amount of money provided over last year’s $50,000 grant, Chase-Morefield said.

Prior to receipt of the Wal-Mart grants, the food bank was only able to make eggs available periodically.

Other protein-rich foods such as turkey sausage also will be purchased, but the bulk of the grant will buy eggs, she said.

The increased capacity for storing food at the food bank’s new $5 million, 41,000-square-foot Nordson Food Distribution Center, as the facility is formally known, is allowing officials to buy and accept much more food.

Previously, the food bank’s refrigeration units only had room for produce, but the new facility’s walk-in refrigerated area has ample room for produce and eggs “all the time,” Chase-Morefield said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

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