Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen, several others receive ARPA funding

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KBSI) – Tuesday, the Carbondale City Council approved 12 American Rescue Plan Act funding applications totaling $2,098,464.

The Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen was approved for $84,400 in funding that will provide support through 2023.

Board President William Lo said the goal of the kitchen is two-fold.

“The restaurants were getting shut down because of COVID. It was tough, people weren’t eating out as much, so we wanted a way to support restaurants and support people that needed food,” he said. “So we came up with the idea of, ‘Hey, why don’t we buy food from the restaurants at a certain price point, and that allows us to sell that food or give it away to people that need it.’”

The funding will add 100 weekly meals to the community and will support a part-time coordinator to be a liaison between residents, organizations and the kitchen.

“Especially right now with restaurants having labor shortages, it’s pretty tough,” Lo said. “We also have local farms that have contributed their produce at no cost to us. This lets us have a person dedicated to coordinating those efforts, and that really takes a load off our shoulders.”

Lo said the funds will help with the balancing act of providing the food to the community without asking too much of the restaurants.

“It’s hard to balance the ask with trying to feed the people that need a meal,” he said. “We don’t want to take. We want to be able to offer, and have it be fair, because it has to be a relationship or it doesn’t work.”

The applications for these funds were ranked and scored based on several categories including cost-effectiveness, community support, and long-term benefit, among others.

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