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Coastal Voices: CAN faces challenges

The Community Assistance Network is in transition.

You may have read about the resignations of our executive and deputy directors in this newspaper. You also may have read that CAN was not included in this year’s Community Development Block Grant applications from Del Norte County or the City of Crescent City.

These and other events present challenges to our organization, but they are challenges we are working to overcome. Our Board of Directors and staff are pulling together to make sure that one thing does not change: Our doors are still open and we continue to provide services to the community.

CAN’s original and still-central service is its food bank. We supply hundreds of families with food every month. Low-income families pick up a box each month at the time they need it most. We distribute food boxes every week and that hasn’t changed.

We strive to put together nutritious, well-rounded boxes, but the reality is that finances sometimes get in the way. When we don’t have cash to order low-cost staples (rice, beans, pasta, onions and oranges) from Redwood Empire Food Bank, our boxes are filled with the donated food we have on hand. Boxes can be slim when donations are low.

While the food bank is our core, we also offer many other services. CANSee generates income to support our other programming by providing landscaping and outdoor cleaning services.

The HARP program helps people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing financial assistance and, perhaps more importantly, by leading life skills classes so they are less at risk of becoming homeless in the future.

Our community gardens provide growing space for almost 100 individuals and families. We provide continuing logistical support to the Community Food Council, which is working to solve underlying challenges to our food system.

Providing these services isn’t free. We need the support of the whole community. In the past, CAN has relied heavily on grant funding.

Unfortunately, opportunities for grants have dwindled and they are more difficult to win. Grant programs that used to get 150 applications for 20 grants now get 600. To add to this difficulty, most grantors allow very little grant money to be used for organizational and administrative cost.

CAN is actively working to expand its fund development portfolio so it will not be as reliant on grants in the future.

We are also working to cut costs. Ownership of our building on G Street has been transferred, relieving us of an additional mortgage payment. Soon, all our staff members will be together at our headquarters on Standard Veneer Road and our remaining costs of housing staff at G Street will also come to an end.

Developing fundraising events, building up CANSee’s client base, and several of our other fund development strategies take time. Right now, CAN needs the support of the whole community while we work to cut costs and find long-term solutions for supporting base operations.

Cash donations allow us to keep our doors open and purchase staple foods for the food bank. When you help CAN, you help insure that fewer Del Norte kids face an empty plate at dinnertime and that more Del Norte families have a stable home.

Please look for CAN’s insert in today’s newspaper. We also welcome you to meet with us or tour our facilities. Please call me at 464-9190 for more information or to arrange a tour.

Angela Glore is director of food programs/operations manager for the Community Assistance Network.

 

 


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