Boca Helping Hands Named Finalist for $100,000 Grant

On May 1, Boca Helping Hands (BHH) was named a 2020 finalist for one of five $100,000 grants to be awarded by Impact 100 Palm Beach County. Out of 110 overall applicants this year, BHH is one of the two finalists in the “Family” category.

About BHH’s Project
The project submitted for grant funding – Enhancing the Lives of Children and Families through Food Storage Expansion – will renovate a building across the street from BHH’s main facility to convert it into additional food storage space. An Impact 100 grant would allow us to complete the $415,000 project, helping to cover the costs of labor and materials to finish the extensive structural, mechanical, and electrical renovations needed in order to triple BHH’s cold and dry food storage capacity. 
While this may sound like just an infrastructure project, it’s really much more than that: It’s an opportunity to create a conduit of compassion in our community, helping BHH to touch the lives of more children and families in Palm Beach County. Since the acquisition of BHH’s current warehouse 10+ years ago, we have seen a 15% annual increase in the demand for food. Until recently, we found ways to meet that growing demand. However, with BHH now operating at maximum capacity, limited storage has become a bottleneck in our ability to continue expanding food distribution. 

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Combating Food Insecurity
The United Way of Palm Beach County estimates that over 180,000 county residents struggle with hunger; more than 53,000 are children who go to bed hungry. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly increased these estimates significantly. Since the crisis began, we have seen a doubling in the demand for our food programs. Over 1,000 new families, representing as many as 4,000 new people, have signed up to receive pantry bags. Most of these are -- or were -- working families who have been undone by circumstances outside their control. Feeding people has been the heart of BHH’s operations since we began as a humble soup kitchen over 21 years ago, and we continue to confront the serious issue of food insecurity in our community.

Increasing BHH’s dry food and refrigerated storage capacity will significantly improve our ability to expand our feeding programs. It will help us to meet the growth at our existing distribution points in Boca Raton, West Boca, and Boynton Beach. It will also allow us to provide for the 2,000 more people we anticipate serving at our planned expansion into Lantana (which would already be in place were it not for the current crisis). 

The increased refrigerated storage will allow us to store and distribute more fresh produce, thus enhancing the nutritional and economic value of the food our clients receive. For the many working families who use our program to supplement their income, this may help them to keep their lights on, take their kids to the doctor, or pay for other necessities. We will measure these nutritional and economic impacts by surveying the recipients of our pantry bags.

Project Status
Our architects have prepared detailed drawings for the project. We have also retained a reputable general contractor, who has already submitted permit applications that are being reviewed by the City of Boca Raton’s building department. We are expecting to commence construction by late June of this year, with completion targeted for late September 2020.

What’s Next?
The full 2020 membership of Impact 100 Palm Beach County (a women's charitable organization funding local nonprofit initiatives in southern Palm Beach County) will vote on their top choices in each grant category later this month. The grant winners will then be unveiled during a virtual awards event on Thursday, May 28, which will be streamed at Impact100pbc.org and on social media. 

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