The Build Coachella Valley Fund was established in 2023 to support the critically urgent social, environmental and economic resilience of the region. The Fund’s first campaign of 2024 will tackle food insecurity in the desert communities.

Beneath the sun-drenched skies of the Coachella Valley where manicured greens stretch into endless horizons, a silent hunger gnaws at the heart of the community. Over 120,000 residents, almost 40% of them children, face the struggle of food insecurity. While some miss one meal, others go a full day without eating – and the numbers are increasing every year.

Imagine Sarah, a single mother working two jobs, forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying rent. Picture Dave, a senior living alone, his pantry bare except for expired cans. Hear the rumble in 14-year-old Miguel’s stomach as he skips dinner to ensure his younger siblings have something to eat.

At IECF, we’re determined to rewrite this story. And we need your help.

Recently, IECF assembled a gathering of donors, nonprofits, staff and board members at FIND Food Bank in Indio for a Donor Learning and Engagement Forum. The group came together to hear about the pressing issue of food insecurity in the Coachella Valley, learning from a group of experts including Debbie Espinosa, national board of directors of Feeding America and president and CEO of FIND Food Bank; Wes Winter, executive director of Mizell Center; Mike Thompson, executive director of LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert; Luz Gallegos, executive director of TODEC; and Jeremy Hobbs, vice chair of IECF, who moderated the conversation.

Our panelists shed light on national, regional, and local challenges, and root causes of food insecurity, describing what these conditions look like locally for seniors, LGBTQ, and farmworkers communities. We learned of promising practices that address both immediate needs and long-term solutions. For example, FIND will double the size of its warehouse; Mizell recently tripled the size of its kitchen for Meals on Wheels; LGBTQ Center will hire new program staff for its food pantry. ”Prior to the pandemic, the cost of producing and delivering a Meals on Wheels to a homebound senior was approximately $6,” said Wes Winter. “Now it costs more than $9 and our list of clients continues to grow. Mizell Center has recently tripled the size of its kitchen to accommodate the growing need in our community.” An overarching goal for the region is to eliminate food deserts (urban areas where it’s difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food) so every person has access to healthy food within 3 miles of their residence.

The forum wasn’t just about talk; it was about action. Together, we packed boxes brimming with fresh produce and nutritious staples for a local pantry, a tangible symbol of our commitment to change.

Local philanthropists believe in the life-changing work we’ve set out to accomplish through the Build Coachella Valley Fund! Thanks to the generosity of donors like Jeremy Hobbs, Western Wind Foundation, and Amazon, we’ve already received gifts totaling $100,000 to advance our efforts. Your contribution to the Build Coachella Valley Fund can help us match that, enabling us to award significant grants to local nonprofits whose work supports social, environmental and/or economic resilience in the region.

The Fund’s initial grantmaking will benefit food pantries and nourish the lives of thousands in the Coachella Valley. We’re aiming to begin financial distributions by May of 2024.

With your help, Sarah can focus on raising her children without the distressing fear of hunger. Dave can enjoy his twilight years with dignity. Miguel can concentrate on homework with a healthy dinner fueling his dreams.

Donate to the Build Coachella Valley Fund today and help us build a valley where hunger is a relic of the past and our neighbors enjoy their right to thrive where they live.

Learn more about the good work we’re doing at IECF through the power of philanthropy. Subscribe to our free monthly eNewsletter, Philanthropy Matters.

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