Small groups fighting hunger in Dayton receive grants for supplies, equipment

A series of ‘micro grants’ totaling $100,000 is being offered to local organizations that combat hunger in the Dayton region.

Two of the groups that have already been awarded $5,000 grants each are using the money to install a walk-in cooler or buy a used van to deliver food.

Former U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, founder of the Hall Hunger Initiative, announced the series of micro-grants on Friday afternoon in an event at the Gem City Market, a new grocery store backed by donations and volunteers that is serving northwest Dayton.

“Oftentimes, people are doing just wonderful work, they have the greatest compassion, but they’re a little bit short on money,” Hall said. “So maybe $5,000 would kind of get them over the hump and really, really help them.”

Michael Shulz, executive director of Mission of Mary, said his group grew and distributed about 60,000 pounds of produce last year and they ran out of walk-in cooler space.

“We were starting to store it in our farm manager’s office,” he said. “This grant has helped us to build a bigger walk-in cooler and hopefully continue to grow and distribute more food to the community.”

Credit: Jordan Laird

Credit: Jordan Laird

The Hall Hunger Initiative used a $100,000 donation from ALOFT, an entity dedicated to advancing racial justice, to establish the micro-grant project earlier this summer, offering grants up to $5,000 for small community organizations helping the hungry.

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The five organizations that have received $5,000 grants so far are:

  • Healthy Family Market — An affordable food market and wellness center being developed by Greater Dayton Premier Management and Sunlight Village at 2118 Germantown St., within walking distance of one of Dayton’s largest public housing complexes. The organization plans to spend the grant on signage and a security system.
  • Seed of Life — Seed of Life is a food and resource program by the nonprofit Expressions of Life that serves families with children, senior citizens, veterans and disabled people in West Dayton. The project provides and sometimes delivers homemade, healthy meals as well as groceries. The group plans to use the grant on food and supplies.
  • Mission of Mary Cooperative — The group in inner east Dayton transforms vacant lots into vegetable gardens. The grant will allow Mission of Mary to build a 12′x14′ walk-in cooler, a larger outdoor washing and packing station and other necessary infrastructure to expand its capacity.
  • Greater Edgemont Community Coalition — The all-volunteer neighborhood group in West Dayton grows food at the Edgemont Solar Garden, using it to train farmers in conjunction with Central State University. The group also runs a diabetes education program and distributes food to those in need. The grant will support operational needs, including training farmers, distributing food and a six-week diabetes educational program.
  • Have a Gay Day Food Pantry — The food pantry delivers free food to those in need across the county. Much of their service helps low-income seniors in West Dayton. The all-volunteer group currently requires volunteers to use their own vehicle for deliveries, making it difficult to find and keep volunteers. They had raised all but $5,000 to buy a used van to pick up and deliver donated food, a gap which will be filled by this grant.

Credit: Jordan Laird

Credit: Jordan Laird

“This will help us to get food to people on a more consistent basis,” LaDawn Turner, executive director of Expressions of Life, said. “This is going to go a long way.”

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Darius Beckham, project manager at Hall Hunger Initiative, encouraged any local groups working to end hunger to fill out the short application at The grants are intended to fill gaps for small nonprofits by paying for such things as emergency repairs, equipment and technology purchases, expanding capacity or staff training.

According to The Foodbank in Dayton, in Montgomery County, over 93,000 people (18% of the population), 26,000 of whom are children, struggle with food insecurity.

Credit: Jordan Laird

Credit: Jordan Laird

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