Second Harvest optimistic Metro grant shortfall can be overcome

Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 6:47pm

After receiving considerably less Metro Community Enhancement Fund grant monies than it both expected and requested, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is optimistic the shortfall can be addressed, an official with the nonprofit said Thursday.

“I think this is a result of very limited funding resources,” said Tasha Kennard, Second Harvest vice president of marketing and communication.

Last week, Mayor Karl Dean announced 23 local nonprofits were recommended to receive the $1.8 million in CEF grants. The Metro Council approved the grants Tuesday night. Second Harvest requested $250,000 and received only $100,000, a significantly larger discrepancy when compared to what the other 22 entities requested and received. For context, Second Harvest both requested and received $225,000 in 2010.

Part of the differential for Second Harvest stems from the fact that 23 entities received grants this year compared to 20 in 2010, thus diffusing, to a degree, the dollars distributed. For both years, Metro allotted $1.8 million.

“It was met with great disappointment and surprise to be honest,” Kennard said of the drop in grant funding. “However, we have been encouraged by the response and the timeliness of that response by Metro government.”

Kennard said Second Harvest officials, led by President and CEO Jaynee Day, are working to make up the shortfall.

“We feel confident we will come to a resolution to provide more service to the community than we’ve been able to provide in the past,” Kennard said.

The Second Harvest Food Bank collects food that would otherwise be wasted, inspects and sorts it, and then distributes the food to not-for-profit agencies. The nonprofit serves, on average, 55,000 Davidson County residents each year (and citizens in 45 other counties) through its Emergency Food Box program and, as such, might be involved with more individuals than any of the other nonprofits that landed CEF grant monies.

Kennard said Second Harvest officials fully understand the realities under which Metro faced with the grants.

Bonna Johnson, a Dean spokeswoman, said the independent review panels that recommended the distribution of CEF grants considered various factors before finalizing the figures for each of the 23 nonprofits in three categories.

Second Harvest fell under the Community Services category. Those entities that applied for grants were slated to receive no more than $100,000 from the beginning of the process. Seven nonprofits in this category received funding, with Second Harvest the only one to get $100,000.

“There are conversations taking place about resolving the shortfall,” said Kennard, who added that Second Harvest’s annual budget is approximately $33 million. “We’re hopeful we’ll find the necessary funding, whether in partnership with the City of Nashville or through private donations.”

As noted, the drop in funds Second Harvest received is considerable when compared to the decreases other nonprofits saw from 2010 to 2011.

For example, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands got $180,000 in 2010 and $153,900 this year (after requesting $194,000). Most of the 23 nonprofits received at least 50 percent of what they requested.

Not all the nonprofits saw a decrease in CEF grant monies from 2010 to 2011, with two actually enjoying increases. The ARC of Davidson County received $63,600 this year as compared to $34,800 in 2010. Similarly, FiftyForward received $76,000 in 2011 compared to $34,700 last year.

Grants were available to Nashville nonprofits in three service categories: afterschool programs, domestic violence and community service.

Funding for afterschool programs totaled $675,000 and include Backfield in Motion, Inc., $87,800; Boys and Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, $49,600; Fannie Battle Day Home for Children, Inc., $67,400; Hearing Bridges, $26,500; Martha O'Bryan Center, $117,100; McNeilly Center for Children, $68,600; Monroe Harding, Inc., $49,200; Oasis Center, Inc., $46,100; PENCIL Foundation, $75,400; and Vanderbilt University (Center for Health Services), $87,300.

Funding in the domestic violence category totaled $675,000 and include Family & Children's Services, $77,600; Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, $153,900; Morning Star Sanctuary, Inc., $108,300; Nashville YWCA, $258,300; Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, $31,500; and The Mary Parrish Center, $45,400.

Funding for community service grants totaled $450,000 and include Big Brothers of Nashville, $97,000; FiftyForward, $76,000; Nashville Area Chapter American Red Cross, $32,500; Nashville CARES, $30,000; Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Inc., $100,000; The Arc of Davidson County, $63,600; and United Way of Middle Tennessee, Inc., $50,900.

3 Comments on this post:

By: on 7/21/11 at 9:28

There are many excellent agencies listed in this story. Second Harvest is not the only applicant that needs more funds. If funds were divided fairly, why pick just one agency to get extra money? Don't the people who need food get food stamps anyway?

By: ms on 7/22/11 at 6:55

to - NO, the people who need food don't GET GOOD STAMPS!!! I am a senior citizen who gets way under $1,000 a month SS, has a worthless part time job and I don't qualify for food stamps. Try paying a mtg, utilities and any other needs (no cc here, no bling or big car) on $1100 a month and see what you need as a supplement. Apparently your world is perfect so you can lump everyone in one catagory.

By: frodo on 7/22/11 at 6:58

The key taxpayer questions are:

1.Should we fund essential services? Fire, police, water/sewer–yes. Education? I suppose. Others? I say maybe, if they are really essential to life.

2. If we support at least a small portion of other services, should we give more to an agency that serves 55,000 people as to an agency that services a few hundred citizens? I think that's a no-brainer. This is where I think the Metro funding process fails. They seem to want to toss money around to "good agencies" rather than focus on how essential the service is and how many people are being served.

In answer to the comment above about those who get help from Second Harvest also getting food stamps...first of all, I'd rather we decide to take care of our own than put the burden on an intrusive federal bureaucracy. Second, don't the people served at Fifty Forward also have Social Security and Medicare? Don't the people served by Vandy already have free clinics and the First Lady to tell them what not to eat? Etc., etc. I'm not sure that should be a prime consideration in looking at remaining needs. Besides, I doubt people who got food after the flood qualified for food stamps.

We (taxpayers) are trying to do the right thing in parceling out relatively few dollars to essential services. But it seems like we are slicing with an axe rather than a scalpel.