Tribe selected to receive $500,000 grant for new food bank
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
The Grand Ronde Tribe’s efforts to continue improving the local community received a $500,000 boost on May 1 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Tribe has been selected to receive a federal grant that will help it build a new, more accessible 3,000-square-foot food bank capable of handling and meeting U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities program requirements for the local community.
The Grand Ronde Tribal Council authorized applying for the Indian Community Development Block Grant on Dec. 21, 2011, after reviewing project suggestions received in community meetings.
The Tribe will work with the Grand Ronde Community Resource Center, which will operate the food bank in the new facility. The Tribe will match the grant with $166,667 less any potential assistance that the Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority may be able to provide.
The annual operation and maintenance costs of the food bank building are estimated to be $30,000.
According to the grant application, the new food bank building will be constructed closer to the Tribal campus because the current location near Uyxat Powwow Grounds is too far away and unsafe for local residents to access on foot.
The current location, in a surplus house the Tribe is letting the food bank use, is less than 2,000 square feet and not designed as a food bank or a community service building.
The Tribe has identified the Curl property across Grand Ronde Road from the Grand Ronde Tribal Housing Authority’s office as the leading contender for locating the new food bank because it is a block from Elder housing and from Chxi Musam Illihi low-income family housing.
According to the grant application, the number of households and people served by the Grand Ronde Community Resource Center has increased substantially during the recent recession.
The number of households served has jumped from 397 in 2008 to 471 in 2010 and the number of people served has increased from 1,381 in 2008 to 1,639 in 2010 – both 18.6 percent jumps. The pounds of food provided increased from 173,645 to 182,587 in the same time span.
The grant application states that the new food bank will have a walk-in freezer and a walk-in cooler, which will make it easier to provide healthier fresh produce to area residents who cannot afford to travel to supermarkets. There also will be room for cooking demonstrations on preserving food.
The Tribe plans to construct the new food bank during the summer of 2013.
In recent years, the Tribe has been instrumental in making Grand Ronde a more full-service, safer community. The Tribe led the effort to widen and improve the safety of Grand Ronde Road and build a fire station in the local community to cut down on response times from West Valley Fire District.