The Gordon County Board of Commissioners took initial steps recently to support the VAC’s application for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that would give the non-profit $500,000 to renovate their community kitchen.
The grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and individual counties decide how to divvy up the money, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) website, dca.state.ga.us.
If the VAC is awarded the grant, the county will have to foot $10,000 per the grant requirements, said County Administrator Randy Dowling.
The VAC will have to find a grant writer and architect to help prepare the paperwork to present to the DCA. The two individuals would not be paid unless VAC’s application for the grant is approved and that money would come from the grant, Dowling said.
The process of receiving the grant is highly competitive; there are usually around 150 applications submitted every year, but only 75 to 80 get approved for funding, according to VAC director Stacy Long.
“It is competitive, but Gordon County has a great track record of these things,” said Dowling. “The DCA has been up here (Gordon County) and they like us. They know we mean business and they know we get work done.”
In 2010, Tallatoona Community Action Partnership was awarded a CDBG for a new facility, which is still under construction, Dowling said.
Long said the grant would help develop the community kitchen during a tough economic time.
“Our funding is down and is really restricted,” she said. “We are an agency that is completely run on volunteer power. We have thrift store part-time position, but just two full-time people.”
Last year, the VAC had 278 volunteers who helped serve over 13,000 people in the Gordon community, and in June of this year, the organization added the community kitchen.
Long said the kitchen serves an average 220 people a month, and it couldn’t have been done without the help of Gordon County residents.
“The community has been wonderful, not only have they been volunteering, but the community has supported us too,” she said.
The VAC’s goal is to make the community kitchen “a real kitchen,” Long said.
Currently the space only provides the bare necessities such as chairs, tables and carpeted flooring. The food served comes from the outside, as the VAC has no means of preparing it.
Long hopes the grant will provide industrial sized stoves and refrigerators, hard flooring (versus the current carpet), a walk-in freezer and more, so the organization can provide a hot meal to citizens five days a week. Long said she is also open to the idea of other groups in Gordon using the facility.
The next step for the nonprofit is meeting with the grant writer and architect for data collection and compiling all the paperwork, said Long.
The paperwork is due to the state by April 2012, and if approved, the VAC would not receive the money until later in that year, said Dowling.