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Two nonprofits got a $1.2 million grant to address Kansas City food insecurity

An older man holds a sack of potatoes while standing next to a pile of potatoes. Cars line up next to him. Other volunteers including a young boy in a red hat stand behind him.
Eva Tesfaye
Harvest Public Media
Many people who come to the Franklin Center's Food Pantry are either ineligible for SNAP or find the application process too difficult. "They asked too many questions for you needing assistance. If you've got so much a car or all of this, it's limited, but with these food banks, everybody pretty much gets the same thing," said Kansas resident, DJ, who declined to give her full name.

With more than 180,000 Kansas Citians facing food insecurity, GreenLight Fund Kansas City is investing $1.2 million into two nonprofits in an effort to reduce the barriers to equitable food access.

GreenLight Fund Kansas City is a nonprofit working to address socioeconomic issues affecting communities by drawing proven solutions to the Kansas City area.

In previous years GreenLight has funded one organization to work towards improving community hardships, but this year the organization selected two nonprofits — mRelief and Food Connect —to receive $1.2 million to address food insecurity in Kansas City.

"[W]e just heard time and again that folks are struggling at the grocery store," said Sarah Haberberger, executive director of GreenLight Fund Kansas City. "And the programs and services that are out there, like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)... are hard to access."

Stigma and barriers contribute to the nearly $13 billion in unclaimed SNAP benefits. mRelief, a Chicago-based tech nonprofit, helps individuals quickly determine their eligibility and enroll through a simplified application process.

SNAP benefits aren't always enough to help those in need. Through an online portal, Food Connect helps organizations distribute equitable food options, including medically and culturally appropriate food, to those in need.

"[W]e meet people, quite literally where they are. We get food to people's homes, to specific pantries, to events that are going on," said Megha Kulshreshtha, CEO and head of product at Food Connect Group. "So it's a way to ensure that people are getting the right food at the right time.."

Food Connect has already distributed 10,000 meals, Kulshreshtha said.

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