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(Rock Island, Ill.) – Erin Garrison and Trista Teeter, Co-founders of Food is Free Albuquerque (FIFABQ), have been awarded a $10,000 Nation of Neighbors℠ grant by Royal Neighbors of America, one of the first and largest women-led insurers in the U.S. Launched in 2014 when Erin and Trista were brainstorming ideas for obtaining fresh produce for their families without breaking the family budget, FIFABQ quickly grew into a community-serving gleaning group. In 2019, the organization harvested more than 14,000 pounds of produce to give to school communities and homeless and women’s shelters.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements for social distancing, many of the group’s donors, volunteers, and recipients were unable to participate or receive food. So, Erin and Trista developed a pop-up project called the Gift of Growing. The program involves building wooden garden boxes out of old shipping pallets, outfitting them with soil, plants and seeds, and giving them away based on a lottery system. Their Nation of Neighbors grant will help FIFABQ fund the Gift of Growing project until demand drops off.
“We were really surprised to receive the grant but very excited to be able to keep the pop-up project going, especially given the initial demand,” says Ms. Teeter. “Everything we receive goes straight back into the community, and we appreciate the support.” The group is creating boxes for the nearby Navajo nation, several women’s shelters, and other local non-profits that serve those who do not have access to or cannot afford fresh produce. More than 120 boxes have been donated to date. “What we hear from many of the recipients is that the garden boxes not only provide the gift of food, but a feeling of taking back some control over their situation during these unprecedented times,” adds Ms. Teeter.
Karen Hayes, Operations Executive at Royal Neighbors, will lead the virtual award presentation. “We are honored to be able to support Food is Free Albuquerque. The ingenuity shown by Ms. Garrison and Ms. Teeter to find new and creative ways to continue to provide free, fresh produce to their community during this pandemic is impressive. For more than 125 years, Royal Neighbors has sought to empower women to make a positive impact in their communities. And being able to provide financial support to organizations like Food is Free Albuquerque is more important than ever this year,” says Ms. Hayes.
Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that provides financial assistance to individuals who have a plan to start or expand a business, organization, program, or nonprofit that helps women and/or girls in their community. To date, more than $2 million has been awarded nationwide.
About Royal Neighbors of America
Royal Neighbors of America is a unique provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. In 1895, Royal Neighbors was founded as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children and the importance of localized philanthropy. Headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois, with an operation in Mesa, Arizona, Royal Neighbors serves more than 215,000 members.
Julie Robinson, Public Relations
Julie.Robinson@royalneighbors.org | (309) 732-8303