(Editor’s note: If you listened to this week’s CivMix podcast, you heard my interview with Amy Klein, CEO of Capital Roots. If you stuck around until the very end of our discussion, you might have heard me say that I purchased a beautiful pottery bowl to help support the organization. To learn more about this effort, read on).
Capital Roots, which was founded back in 1975, works to reduce the impact of poor nutrition on public health in Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Southern Saratoga counties by providing affordable access to fresh produce and other nourishing food.
This task, which relies heavily relying on the work of a small staff and dedicated volunteers, is daunting enough without a pandemic. But when COVID hit, all staffers were redirected to front line essential service work. Everyone in every department restructured their tasks and were redeployed to ensure that services were available for existing consumers as well as those who were suddenly facing food insecurity as a result of the economic downturn wrought by the virus.
Capital Roots never paused. They adapted in order to keep serving neighbors through programs like Veggie Mobile® and Sprout, making deliveries to Healthy Stores partners, updating protocols and offerings in the Urban Grow Center Market, and ramping up produce recovery and redistribution efforts through the Squash Hunger program. They were even able to keep the Produce Project open during the summer to help urban high school students get ready for entering the job market.
But some things did fall victim to the pandemic – including the two main fundraisers on which Capital Roots heavily relies to keep its wide variety of offerings up and running. The Spring Brunch event, usually held in May, and Autumn Evening fundraiser, typically held in September, both were cancelled due to the state’s restrictions on large gatherings put in place in an effort to reduce the COVID infection rate.
These events represent hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. In keeping with its adaptability and “can do” approach, Capital Roots has shifted its fundraising effort, too.
The organization hosted an online fundraiser back in May, encouraging folks to have brunch via video chatting services, and donate funds for a “Month of Brunch.” They have also partnered with a local potter to help raise funds.
Longtime Capital Roots’ supporter Liz Vigoda is hand-crafting bowls, made to order, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support Capital Roots programming. Vigoda has been supporting the organization since the early 2000’s by donating her pottery pieces for the Spring Brunch silent auction. Since that event was cancelled this year, she found a workaround.
To find out how you can order a hand-made bowl, head to the Capital Roots fundraising page on Facebook. They are taking orders through the end of September. NOTE: This has been updated to correct the duration of this offer – get your bowl today!
While these fundraisers are very cool and have been successful, as online fundraisers go, it’s just not enough.
Capital Roots was awarded funding through Nourish New York, which has enabled it to buy larger quantities of food directly from its local farm and producer partners. This also has the added benefit of provided their partners a much-needed boost in sales during these unpredictable times.
Capital Roots’ dedication to the mission, every day, rain or shine, pandemic or not, is that bright light helping to keep our Capital Region healthy, and living longer.
To learn more about the many programs and services Capital Roots offers, check out their website here.