January 2021 Grant Program

Last month, Invest in Others provided an opportunity for advisors to apply for a grant on behalf of nonprofits who were struggling to provide food for its communities. We received over 125 applications for this hunger relief grant program and we are honored to recognize our six recipients.



Conscious Kitchen – Justina Lai | Wetherby Asset Management – Charles Schwab

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

Our strength is connecting school and community partners with supply chain opportunities to meet increased need with fresh, local, organic products. We’ve long believed organics to be cost-effective at scale, but districts are challenged to drastically shift their supply chain. COVID-19 presented an opportunity to partner with suppliers to demonstrate scale with our school district partner, WCCUSD and their food box program. We have shifted pre-packaged food boxes to now feature local, organic produce, meat, grain and more. Pricing is competitive and food is higher quality. The team is convinced that this learning will transition back to in-school meals upon return.

What will this grant be used for?

The grant funds will be used for Conscious Kitchen to support WCCUSD to continue the food box transition including more local and organic ingredients. CK will continue to help curate the weekly boxes. With the team, we just designed and sourced the first 100% USDA certified organic box for March distribution. We will continue the supply chain exploration together to deepen opportunities and create new weekly educational materials and recipes for families, as the program progresses. While the COVID- 19 response has been very focused on immediate need, the district realizes the purchasing power of their scale and is starting to develop plans to capitalize on and integrate this new supply chain experience as they shift back to in-person school meals. CK will work with the district to refine the current approach, identify and strengthen relationships with suppliers, leverage purchasing power for best pricing, define purchasing parameters, and develop recipes for their longer term, sustainable in-school meal program. Grant funds will support the CK team to work with the district and build on this experience to create a robust toolkit that can also be replicated across the state.


Elmwood Park Residents Assistance Program – Rachel Johnson | UBS Financial Services, Inc.

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

There have been many requests for food since the pandemic in our community. Our requests for food has increased tremendously with so many people out of work and the schools closed. At this time if a resident call for assistance with food, we provide them supermarket gift cards. If they are not mobile, we pick up and deliver groceries to them. However, Due to COVID-19 we have seen a loss in volunteers because many people are reluctant to participate due to possible exposure.

What will this grant be used for?

Not only will we be able to purchase food and supermarket gift cards for residents, we are planning on opening our first ever food pantry in March of 2021. We rely on donations and the grant will be able to assist us in stocking and starting up the food pantry.


I Believe in Me – Brad Young | Maryland Financial Planners – Lincoln Financial

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

We grew from feeding our students in their after-school program to feeding the community. We have added a new program with food distribution since March of 2020. This created a need for new sources of funding. We provide more food; fresh food & culturally sensitive food than other programs in the community. We give out food to last for at least a week, while other programs give out a box of food that lasts 3 days and is mostly cans and boxes. Our numbers continue to grow, even in the cold weather. Our community has been hit hard, Frederick is the second largest city in Maryland – and without a reliable public transportation system, these funds would help us with hosting food drops in locations that allow for easier accessibility.

Purpose of Request: What will this grant be used for?

We will use these funds to pay for food. We spend money on fresh produce, meats, dairy products, etc. so our clients get great nutrition. 80% of what we give away, we have purchased from food distributors and suppliers who are giving us wholesale pricing and nonprofit discounts. We are able to stretch our dollars to everyone’s advantage.


Knead Community Cafe – Kevin Bode | Northwestern Mutual

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

We used to serve a once per month free dinner program where people would come to have a meal. At that time there were no take outs allowed. Since COVID, we changed that into a weekly take out meal and we give each person as many meals as they need for their household. We are now giving away three times as many free meals each month for nearly 300 individuals. The meals cost $750 to $1,000. We have sponsors to help cover the first $500 of the meal but we have to make up the gap.

In addition, we used to give away produce for individuals and families which was enough to last them for a week until the next giveaway. The produce came from a federal program which ended last fall. People were very disappointed when it ended. Also, the only grocery store in town closed in the fall which has made downtown New Kensington a literal food dessert. Many of these people live in low income apartments and have no transportation so now their only option is a gas station. Our cafe and the local food bank (which only distributes once per month) have become critical for our community. In addition to the meals we serve daily, we are also giving away groceries to people in need.

What will this grant be used for?

The grant will be used to purchase produce to hand out to people on Thursday nights with their meals. We would purchase 100 boxes of produce at $20 per box. Families will get a full box. Individuals or couples will get bags of produce that will be put together by our volunteers. We have companies willing to donate heavy nylon bags to put the produce in for people to carry home. The produce hand out would go until early June when we hope the pandemic will be less severe.


Longfellow/Seward Healthy Seniors – Patricia Lovelette | RiverLink Financial Advisors – Advisor Group

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

We added a food distribution program to our already existing services. We received a Hunger Solutions grant to purchase and distribute food starting in July 2020. Many of our in-person services have gone virtual via Zoom or by phone.

Funds are needed to help seniors get the groceries they need. Before COVID, our service was to help seniors stay independent, socially connected and healthy. Now we help them get food AND combat the added social isolation in addition to our regular services. While COVID made going to the grocery store unsafe for seniors, the civil unrest destroyed our neighborhood Target, Cub Foods, Aldi’s, Walgreen’s and restaurants. For months, area seniors literally had no place close by to buy food. Many of these seniors do not have their own transportation. We stepped up by making connections with the Minnehaha Food Shelf and NAPS for food delivery. The grocery stores have since reopened and we’re helping those who would shop at the grocery store get what they need, including culturally specific food for Somali elders.

What will this grant be used for?

This grant will be used for the purchase of food and occasionally pre-paid grocery store cards for lower- income seniors, including culturally specific foods for Somali elders to relieve the burden of food insecurity. Seniors who want to receive food that we purchase must apply through our office.


Sunnyside Unified School District – Taunya Villicana | Affinity Wealth Management – LPL Financial

What are some of the big challenges this nonprofit is facing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How have the needs of those you serve changed?

Our organization had to step in because school district budgets had to cut down on spending to prepare for future budget cuts. In AZ, funding for remote learning continues to be threatened, so districts are being forced to save money in preparation for cut funding. We have been replacing the meal options traditionally offered by our schools to the best of our ability. In the summer our bus drivers were dropping off food to students, but Tucson heat (100+) made it unsafe for buses to sit and wait from morning till lunch to distribute two meals so we helped.

Last year, we found resources through donated items and gift cards to serve at least 240 households a month. We just heard from our foodbank they can only help us with 100 households a month this semester. We’ve been informed we are now Southern AZ’s largest ‘school pantry,’ in terms of reach/impact. We have consistently turned families away at each meal drive- through, hunger-relief grants, and our holiday plate (500 plates) drive. Our rural students’ (350 students) closest ‘food pantry’ is in an entirely different city. Every single one of our 21 schools is a Federally recognized Title 1 school, which means our schools were carrying free lunch and breakfast for every one of our students who now rely on their homes for meals, during a pandemic, where unemployment has rocked our families. We have thousands of students in food insecure situations.

What will this grant be used for?

We plan to divide our grant equally to provide for our four most in-need groups:

  1. Refugee Students – Our refugee families have lost hours due to COVID, been left out of stimulus relief, and have strict diets that aren’t being met through food drive scenarios. These families need equitable food assistance options.
  2. DACA Students – Our DACA student’s parents were completely left out of federal stimulus funding. These are our highest poverty students coming from families making less than $25k annually and much less during the pandemic.
  3. McKinney Vinto Students – These students are unaccompanied/homeless youth. They are supported through our schools but our federal grants will not let us buy food gift cards for the students. In December, we each maxed out our credit cards and reimbursed ourselves to get our students grocery gift cards during the two-week holiday break.
  4. Immigrant Relief Fund – This summer we ran a very large Immigrant Relief Fund on an innovative and equitable gift card system. We can restrict spending needs per gift card and distribute cards via mail for COVID safety. Admin will support management to program, fees to purchase cards, and lost/stolen card replacement.


This program was sponsored in part by: