Cultivate receives 1-million-dollar donation to fund expansion

South Bend, Ind. — 40-percent of food produced in the United States is wasted.

Cultivate Food Rescue has spent the last four years trying to salvage what isn’t used to feed families in need.

Cultivate reports the group just received one million dollars to expand its efforts.

The St. Joseph County Council awarded the money through American Rescue Plan funds.

It’s a huge kickstart for a planned five-million-dollar expansion project.

1-point-2 million pounds of food.

That’s how much Cultivate rescued in 2021 alone.

Whether it came from grocery stores, restaurants, catering events, or farms, their mission is to let no food go to waste. Part of the money goes to their food backpack program.

“So, every weekend a kid that’s on free and reduced lunch that’s in K through second grade takes home six frozen meals,” said Jim Conklin, Cultivate Food Rescue Executive Director.

The rest is distributed to the more than 200 food pantries they work with throughout Northern Indiana.

With the demand for food support skyrocketing the last two years, the biggest challenge moving forward is where to store it.

“Most pantries simply don’t have enough place to store things. So they always have to buy for what they’re distributing that day or that week. We hope by adding this facility we will be able to help them store more food at no cost to them,” said Conklin.

Executive Director Jim Conklin says they are looking to expand their facility.

The majority of it will be used as cold storage space.

“Right now, we have about 19,000 ft. of cold storage. With that addition that’ll be 375,000 ft. of cold storage,” said Conklin.

That means food that can quickly go bad can be preserved longer.

“We support pantries with perishable food items. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, cheese, shredded cheese, milk and protein. Things you don’t typically see in a pantry,” said Conklin.

With their eyes set on providing more in the future, Conklin says this money gives all the food pantries a better chance to reach those in need.

“We went from 0 to 1.2 million pounds of food in four years, and we think that number could be 5 million plus. So, we really need more storage space for what we’re doing but also share that with the other pantries and social service agencies,” said Conklin.

Conklin says the million dollars makes the five-million-dollar goal seem more attainable.

They plan to launch the fundraiser later this spring, but people can donate on their website now.

They hope to collect 80 percent by this time next year so they can start construction.

Original article here.