Berks County Community Foundation has awarded a grant of $26,200 to Opportunity House to renovate a loading dock to create a food pantry at the shelter at 430 N. Second St.
This environmentally beneficial project will provide much-needed fresh produce, dairy, and meat to formerly homeless individuals and families, said Modesto D. Fiume, Opportunity House President. Much of the food will be donated by local suppliers with extra or leftover food, thereby diverting the food from landfills and giving it to those in need.
Opportunity House, a nonprofit established in Reading in 1984, changes lives by educating, housing, feeding, and empowering people to stand on their own feet.
The food pantry project will involve collaboration among several nonprofits. Habit for Humanity of Berks County will supply contracted labor. Helping Harvest food bank will deliver food at no cost. Reading Hospital/Tower Health will provide a nutritionist to demonstrate how to prepare the food that is distributed.
Additional funding for the $38,500 project is being provided by Reading Hospital/Tower Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The Building Industries Exchange of Reading and Berks County Fund awards this grant annually. The Building Industries Exchange of Reading provided a place for contractors and builders to view blueprints and designs in the age before digital files made hard copies obsolete. In 2013, the Exchange used its remaining assets to create a fund at Berks County Community Foundation to support capital projects at Berks County nonprofit organizations and to provide scholarships for those pursuing careers in the trades.
Projects that incorporate environmental stewardship receive preference when grants are awarded from the fund.
Fiume provided additional details about the food pantry project: Adding insulation, sheet rock, and new flooring will create an improved and more energy-efficient space. Energy-efficient LED bulbs will replace fluorescent lights currently used there, and the contractor will use paint that doesn’t contain volatile organic compounds. Existing shelving will be repurposed, not replaced. The 30-year-old walk-in refrigerator and freezer will be recycled and new, more efficient equipment will be installed.
Previous recipients of grants from the fund include Humane Pennsylvania, GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, Ringgold Band, Reading Area Firefighters Museum, WCR Center for the Arts, Berks Encore, and Easterseals Eastern PA.