A Christmas Miracle: Food Justice of Geneva gains 501(c)3 status
– By Gabriel Pietrorazio
Food Justice of Geneva has officially announced that the organization has gained 501(c)3 non-profit status after five-years of food stewardship across fields in upstate New York.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to end our 2019 season,” Food Justice co-chair Teresa Schmidtka-Shaffer told FingerLakes1.com.
Shaffer confirmed that their federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit status was formalized on December 18th and the organization waited to until after Christmas to issue the public announcement on their Facebook page.
Both Shaffer and fellow co-chair Deacon Henry Farro have hoped to acquire the 501(c)3 designation ever since starting their operation.
For the last five-years, Food Justice has operated by “funding out of pocket” and acquiring a 501(c)3 status shall allow the organization to apply for grant opportunities and ask for foundation donations, which will be “a game changer” for Food Justice, as told by Shaffer.
This year alone, Food Justice gleaned and collected 44,900 pounds of produce and organizers cannot wait until 2020 for the new year and all the future possibilities that it holds.
Food Justice of Geneva, a volunteer organization that brings fresh produce to Ontario County residents has addressed food inaccessibility issues but also faced financial insecurities, especially during the 2020-21 city budget allocation, which cut funding from their organization and similar partner agencies.
During the 2019-20 city budget year, the organization was allocated $4,950 and this upcoming year’s 2020-21 approved city budget drops their collection by nearly half to $2,745.
Last year, partner agencies like Food Justice received a total of $133,450 that was divided among 14 organizations, but only $98,975 has been allocated to the same groups for this year’s city budget.
The visible decline accounts as an overall reduction in the partner agency budgeting by $34,475, which crunches-out to nearly a quarter of last year’s total budget allocation.
But beyond budgeting, Food Justice remains ever-focused on supporting those who are simply hungry and suffer from food insecurity.
Even during the holiday season, Shaffer looks forward to the second winter gleaning season which starts in January and continues throughout the winter and spring months until June.
Last winter, Food Justice entered a partnership with the Compassion Coalition of Utica and collected an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 pounds of produce during that gleaning harvest season.
“Food Justice of Geneva, NY, Inc. is delighted in receiving a 501(c)3 status. This will enable us to bring fresh nutritious produce to food insecure families living in Ontario County,” Shaffer told FingerLakes1.com.