Mayor Richard C. David on Thursday announced a $100,000 partnership with the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and several area churches to support community meal programs and efforts to reduce food insecurity.
“This new partnership brings City Hall, local churches and CHOW together to address serious food insecurity issues in neighborhoods across Binghamton,” said Mayor David. “Binghamton’s Black churches are providing a critical public service with community meal programs that mean hot food for our seniors and struggling local families. These churches — and the men and women leading them — are true anchors in the neighborhoods they serve. The City is doing its part to support and grow these programs for the future.”
In June, Mayor David met with several Black faith leaders who expressed a need for funding to support their churches’ community meal programs.
A number of Binghamton’s Black churches run food pantries, community soup kitchens and hot meal delivery programs that serve hundreds of low-income residents, seniors and homeless individuals. Many have been relying on outdated kitchen equipment to prepare and store food. The programs have seen increased demand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In touring community kitchen facilities, Mayor David and church leaders identified necessary capital upgrades to meet both food safety guidelines and the recent increase in need.
Under a new partnership, the City will allocate $55,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to support capital upgrades to the community kitchen facilities at the following churches:
- House of Worship, 93 Riverside Drive — Pastor Frank L. Barnett
- Greater Faith and Deliverance Ministries, 219 Oak St. — Pastor Claude Oliver
- Mt. Sinai Church of God In Christ, 126 S. Washington St. — Pastor Arthur W. Jones, Jr.
- River of Life Ministries, 28 Frederick St. — Pastors Mario D. Williams and Kim Williams
- Hands of Hope Ministries, 270 Robinson St. — Pastor Henry Ausby
- Salvation Temple Church, 80 Main St. — Pastors Carl E. Lewis and Dr. Thelma Lewis
The funding will support critical upgrades to kitchen infrastructure. This includes the purchase and installation of new stoves, freezers, refrigerators and electrical upgrades. Allocation amounts will vary based on individual program need.
In addition, the City will allocate $25,000 in federal CARES Act funding to support and expand the churches’ community meal programs. The funding will go to purchase supplies, such as food and paper products. CHOW, which currently works with several area churches on increasing food access, will administer the funds.
Finally, the City will allocate $20,000 in CARES Act funding directly to CHOW to support its local programs.
“CHOW is grateful to partner with both the City and these congregations to better serve our community,” said Dr. Joe Sellepack, Executive Director of the Broome County Council of Churches, which operates CHOW. “It is our prayer that this partnership will result in less food insecurity and more food justice for all God's children.”
“I would like to express my gratitude for the support and kindness from the City of Binghamton and Mayor David,” said Pastor Frank Barnett of House of Worship. “We were about to close down our food program due to equipment needs and a lack of supplies. After speaking to the Mayor and Change Coalition Founder Jamar Johnson, the City is working with us and other pastors to address some of the issues going on in our neighborhoods. This funding will help House of Worship continue to provide meals to low- and no-income individuals.”
House of Worship has been serving and delivering meals for the last four years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance at its community meals has increased from 40 or 50 people to as many as 300, according to Pastor Barnett.
“These kitchen upgrades will go a long way in allowing us to serve more community members hot meals and also store more food that will be distributed through our CHOW Food Pantry,” said Pastor Claude Oliver of Greater Faith and Deliverance Ministries. “Thanks to the City of Binghamton, the Change Coalition, Jamar Johnson and Pastor Frank Barnett for helping to lead and organize the pastors. I am very pleased we were able to work together with the Mayor's Office to get this partnership off the ground and into meaningful measurable action.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Rich David, the City of Binghamton, the Change Coalition led by Jamar Johnson, Pastor Frank Barnett and the Clergy for this partnership,” said Bishop Mario D. Williams, Pastor of River of Life Ministries. “I appreciate everyone's efforts to provide and meet the needs of the individuals in our community. We stand in solidarity with our elected officials who share the same heart and vision as we do with our community. Thank you for reaching out to the homeless and needy, to assure we can accomplish the mission to meet the needs of our community.”
The initiative is the latest announcement from the City and the Change Coalition, a community group formed out of local demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Founded by Jamar Johnson, the Change Coalition includes local activists, faith leaders, Black business leaders, representatives of the Broome-Tioga NAACP and the MLK Commission, and nonprofits, including the Broome County Urban League.
“The murder of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic has raised a perfect storm to create the climate for change,” said Jamar Johnson, Change Coalition founder. “We’ve joined with community leaders to identify several opportunities to enact change — food insecurity being one of the top priorities. I am so pleased that the Mayor, local clergy and several organizations, including CHOW, have formed a partnership to address food insecurity in our community. It’s one step to fix a huge problem. Thank you to all involved. Change is here. Change is now. Change is forever.”
Mayor David has committed to funding community meal programs in 2021, as well.
Funding is available from the City’s federal CDBG program and the CARES Act. It will strictly support community food programs that are open to the public. Per U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules, no funds will support religious services.
Mayor David will send legislation to the City Council for review at the next work session on Aug. 17.
“This funding is just the start of a growing partnership between the City and the organizations that help make sure our community is fed,” said Mayor David. “The City supports several nonprofits annually that are focused on addressing food insecurity, including CHOW and VINES. I recognize there are many organizations across the City doing this work, and I encourage those interested in future funding opportunities to contact us as we will be reaching out as well.”
Nonprofits interested in funding opportunities can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (607) 772-7001.
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