City’s first blog post features CDBG partner for hunger relief: QCAP’s Food Center

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Provides Hunger Relief Funding

Without CDBG funding, Quincy Community Action Programs, Inc.’s Southwest Community Food Center would not be able to deliver the same high-quality, integrated services for those most in need in our community. The CDBG funding is used toward the salaries for the hard-working, dedicated staff at the Food Center. At its satellite location in Quincy’s Brewer’s Corner location at 1 Copeland St, the SWCFC is staffed full-time 8:30-4:30 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with evening hours on Wednesday from 10:30-6:30 to accommodate our working families. The Food Center also hosts a nutrition education program, “Tasty Tuesday” one Tuesday a month from 1:00-3:00, demonstrating how to make easy, nutritious meals with the items from the Food Center.

CDBG funding allows the SWCFC to be open five days a week, where both staff and volunteers prepare food orders (consisting of approximately one week’s worth of meals), welcome new clients, and prepare materials for one-on-one meetings with new and existing clients. Clients receive one food order a month, but they can visit the Food Center more than once a month if there is a real financial hardship, i.e. no income or significantly reduced income. In addition, staff works with clients to enroll them in the SNAP program and to make sure SNAP recipients are up to date with their recertification paper work and are aware of SNAP program changes. Through QCAP’s comprehensive intake process, clients also receive referrals to other QCAP programs and community resources.

In addition to the services we provide at 1 Copeland St in Quincy, the SWCFC provides a monthly Pop Up Food Pantry at QCAP’s Head Start facility at 22 Pray Street. We serve over 100 low-income families per month with their monthly food order through our Head Start location. These families would not otherwise be able to receive food services due to transportation and time constraints. This is a valuable service to the low-income families in Quincy that is made possible with the support of CDBG funding.

At the SWCFC, we are committed to providing nutritional food in our food orders, but we are aware that some families need support in understanding how to fully utilize these nutritious ingredients in their daily cooking. Tasty Tuesday is QCAP’s nutrition education and cooking demonstration workshop, which continues to draw a monthly audience to our SWCFC. In these workshops, the Food Center Coordinator provides meal preparation instruction using the ingredients typically available in the SWCFC food orders. The goal is to give clients the tools to plan budget-friendly weekly menus, empowering them to make healthy meals for their families, and instilling in their children the importance of good eating habits. Clients leave these workshops excited to use the ingredients in their food orders having learned valuable nutritional information. Without CDBG funding, QCAP would not be able to sustain this important workshop series.

To be able to provide the services we do at SWCFC, QCAP relies on over 135 volunteers, logging in more than 4300 hours in FY19 to manage the volunteer work at the Food Center. Many volunteers fulfill their Community Service requirements at the Food Center as a condition of eligibility for Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children and/or SNAP benefits. Volunteering at SWCFC provides individuals with an opportunity to build work-related skills such as organizational and time-management skills, professional behavior, customer service, and office management skills—skills that can help them transition to employment. SWCFC volunteers that are looking for employment are referred to QCAP’s Financial REACH Center to support their job search. In FY19, one of QCAP’s regular volunteers transitioned into full-time employment in a social-service field.

In addition, QCAP’s SWCFC is a partner in the City of Quincy’s Summer YouthWorks Program and hosts 3 Quincy youth workers each summer for a paid 8-week internship. With the support of the Food Center Coordinator, these Quincy Public School students develop a work-based learning plan and work to achieve their goals through their summer employment at the Food Center.

QCAP also collaborates with UMASS Boston’s Human Services Program and Quincy College to provide credit-baring internships for college students. Many high school and middle-school students also volunteer to fulfill their community service volunteer requirements in order to graduate. These opportunities provide students with a way to apply academic-based learning to a social services environment and to connect and give back to their community.
CDBG funding remains a critical resource to the operations of QCAP’s Southwest Community Food Center. Without it, staff hours could be reduced, which would negatively impact our ability to provide the much needed services described above to our clients and community.

Melinda Alexander, QCAP Food Center Coordinator (Right) pictured with Beth Ann Strollo, QCAP CEO (left), holding the Mayor's Annual Community Service Award for 2014.
Photo: Melinda Alexander, QCAP Food Center Coordinator (Right) pictured with Beth Ann Strollo, QCAP CEO (left), holding the Mayor’s Annual Community Service Award for 2014.

This narrative was written prior to the COVID-19 crisis. In April, QCAP has seen a dramatic increase in clients. If you are in need of help or can help, please go to: https://www.qcap.org/covid-19_updates/

Southwest Community Food Center remains open for residents in need. Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00-4:30, Wednesday 11:00-6:30. Call 617-471-0796.Click here for important COVID-19 Updates from QCAP (4/22/2020)