Westside Ministries asks for community vote in grant competition


Westside Ministries in Turlock is asking for community help – and voting – in their effort to win a tractor for the organization’s food literacy program.

Selected from some 400 applicants, Westside Ministries is one of five finalists in the Kubota Tractor Corporation Hometown Proud Grant Program competition. The local nonprofit is the only West Coast finalist in the online competition and would win $ 100,000 in grants if it received the most votes. On Friday afternoon, Westside Ministries tied for third place with 1,360 votes.

According to the founder and director of Westside Ministries, JoLynn DiGrazia, the grant money would be used to purchase a new tractor for the charity, to make improvements to the organization’s kitchen – both of which would benefit the program. agricultural food literacy while providing food to underserved people.

“We are doing our best to get everyone to vote for us every day because it would make a huge difference in the neighborhood and what we could do with food production,” said DiGrazia.

A new tractor would allow Westside ministries to expand its food literacy program, which gives underserved youth a farming experience while providing fresh food to those in need (photo provided).

Westside Ministries has needed a new tractor for years, she said, and was figuring out how to fund a new one from Garton Tractor, Inc. in Turlock when the company told them about the program. Kubota grants. A new tractor would help expand the non-profit organization’s on-site garden to allow for more winter crop planting on their property on West Greenway Avenue, where students are also saving their pig projects for the county fair by Stanislaus.

The tractor would also help Westside Ministries continue to use soil restoration practices, which help conserve water and remove pesticides.

The grant funding would also help restore a kitchen, giving students a place to prepare the foods they grow and use the products in the food literacy program’s food boxes. In addition to distributing over 150 boxes of USDA food each week during the pandemic, Westside Ministries is using its own youth-produced food as well as products from local food banks and grocery stores to distribute their own boxes of food to 500 families each quarter.

During the pandemic, vegetables grown by children were sold cheaply to the elderly and others in need and the effort is expected to continue this year.

“We use the food that the kids grow and then it comes into our kitchen,” DiGrazia said. “They learned to push each other and do whatever they could last summer to market and sell these vegetables, and they did really well.”

In addition to learning to care for crops, the Food Literacy Program teaches participants work ethic, technical skills and emotional healing, to better prepare them for life in the aggressive community of Turlock and the -of the. For DiGrazia, seeing the community support so far has made his “hometown proud”.

“We would like our hometown of Turlock to be proud of us and recognized for this wonderful honor,” said DiGrazia. “This town is truly the gold of the valley and the center of agriculture. Showing that disadvantaged people have the same access to farming and good food would make Turlock look even better than before.

DiGrazia encouraged residents of Turlock to try to vote once a day for Westside Ministries, and said she told her supporters to put an alarm on their phones to remind them to vote.

“We understood that if everyone makes the decision to vote every day, it will make a huge difference for this community,” she said.

To vote for Westside Ministries under Kubota Tractor Corporation’s Hometown Proud grant program, visit https://www.kubotausa.com/hometown-proud-vote and click on the Westside Food Literacy Program badge.

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