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Donation Recipient

Each year, the Festival Foundation selects a nonprofit recipient that focuses on food insecurity in the Grand Traverse Region to receive the donations from the CherryT Ball Drop. Applications for this year are closed and will reopen in early October. This year's recipient will be announced on December 1, 2023.
Congratulations to the 2023 New Year's Eve Recipient: The Father Fred Foundation.

Our Mission: Based on the founding belief that each of us is created in God’s image, we offer help, hope, and compassion to anyone with essential needs.

History of the Father Fred Foundation
The Father Fred Foundation was founded nearly 35 years ago. When Traverse City’s State Mental Hospital closed it’s doors in 1989, Father Edwin Fredrick, affectionately known as Father Fred, had concerns for the patients who would have no place to go. Father Fred served as the hospital’s Chaplain since 1959 until it closed in 1989. He grew to know and understand the many needs of patients and recognized their new life outside of the hospital, would prove to be challenging. Back then, many patients who were checked into mental health facilities did not have family or other support systems. Father Fred, along with a group of concerned community members, founded the Father Fred Foundation to help these and any other individuals who had fallen through the cracks of government-funded programs.
The Foundation started as a small closet-sized building that provided essential needs to anyone in the community who needed help. Then and still today, the Father Fred Foundation provides people in need with food, financial assistance, clothing, and household items.
Father Fred’s approach included the philosophy that everyone has a right to dignity and respect. Today, we continue to honor his legacy by serving individuals and families in need while preserving their dignity and treating them in a kind and respectful manner.

Services Today
Service provided through the Father Fred Foundation has grown to meet ongoing demand. We continue to provide essential needs including food, clothing & household items, and financial assistance for those in need, living in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties. However, for the purpose of this application and request, this document will focus on the Essential Need for Food.
All goods and services provided through the Father Fred Foundation are funded locally with private donations and small grant dollars.

On-Site Food Pantry: Our food pantry, which resembles a small grocery market, offers healthy food options, including milk, eggs, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, and staple pantry items such as peanut butter, beans, pasta and more. Pantry items are provided at no charge for those in need and have had over 10,000 visits already this year (Jan.-Sept. 2023).

Pantry to Preschool: Pantry to Preschool was launched in 2020 and serves families of preschool children, who are food insecure. Through a partnership with MSU Extension, Father Fred Volunteers prepare food packages with recipes, ingredients, meats, bread, milk, and fresh produce. When families arrive to pick up their child from preschool, their package awaits them. This service has been exceptionally well received since transportation is a significant barrier for many food-insecure households.

Blessings in a Backpack, SHINE, and Boost: These food programs are designed to supplement food for students when they are not at school to benefit from free/reduced school meals. Blessings in a Backpack provides weekend food during the school year, so students have access to quick, grab-n-go snacks and easy-to-prepare meals. So far this year more than 9,800 backpacks were filled for students (Jan – Sept 2023).

The SHINE program was developed in 2023 in partnership with Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS). The Father Fred Foundation provides food to be distributed by TCAPS, to students during the summer break. TCAPS distributes the food to where the students are staying. SHINE was developed to target students identified as homeless. This was our first summer providing the SHINE program and 3,110 packages were distributed to kids while on summer break.

Boost is a program of our onsite pantry and provides an additional food “boost” for families who have students home over the summer break. This summer 1,400 boost bags were filled.

How would this gift benefit your nonprofit while addressing food insecurity?
The Father Fred Foundation’s food budget has increased this year by more than 80% over 2022.
There are three reasons for this:
1. Increased Need: In March of this year, SNAP benefits (also known as food stamps), were reduced to pre-Covid levels. This means a family of four (4) lost approximately $394.00 per month in food assistance. As a result, households turned to food pantries to get them through each month. This year to date, 31,075 individuals were assisted with food from our pantry – an increase of 79% over this time last year.
2. Cost of Food: The cost of groceries not only impacted people living in our communities, but also area food pantries who are working to keep shelves stocked. Our food costs have increased by 80% this year, and are expected to hit $900,000 by year end.
3. Expanded Food Programs: To meet the needs of people who aren’t able to make it to our Traverse City location, our food programs were expanded to provide outreach to all five counties we serve. Pantry to Preschool and SHINE are included in our outreach work.
If awarded, the Father Fred Foundation will use the funds to purchase food for the programs listed above. Grants funds will help to offset the additional costs we’re experiencing, in order to meet the needs in our community. 100% of all dollars will be used for food purchases. All food purchased will be provided to people right here in our community, covering a five-county region.
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