Vermillion Food Pantry Awarded Second Grant with Help from English Class
“The fact that the class won two separate grants totaling almost $15,000 just goes to show how much they cared about the project and how invested they were,” said Ken Green, Department of English instructor. “I am proud of the work they did. The impact their work will have on this community will last well into the future, and they will be able to look back and feel very proud of what they accomplished.”
Both of the grants, totaling $14,385, will help improve transportation of the Vermillion Food Pantry. The funds will be used to convert a donated bus into a vehicle that includes shelving, a refrigerated space and additional storage capacity to reach clients who are unable to travel to the organization’s downtown Vermillion location. In addition, the renovated bus will feature a decal on its exterior to advertise the pantry and increase community awareness about food insecurity.
In 2021, the Vermillion Food Pantry served over 2,000 households, including over 2,000 kids under 18. Katy Beem, Vermillion Food Pantry executive director, said that already in 2022 they are serving even greater numbers.
"This fantastic partnership with USD's Grant Writing class expands our capacity to keep up with a concerning increase in hunger and food insecurity in Clay County," Beem said. "This is a terrific example of the genuinely meaningful impact USD students can have on communities beyond campus."
In the first half of the Grant Writing class taught by Green, students were familiarized with all the aspects associated with grant applications and proposals. Then, the class spent time working with the Vermillion Food Pantry so that the students could better understand the organization’s needs and help them reach their goals through grants.
Green said that by the end of the semester, students were surprised about how involved they got and how much they ended up caring about the project.
“Working on real life grants for real life organizations helped the students see how the skills and information we read about could be used to help others,” he said. “It felt good to do work that helped people, and the students got an experience that is hard to find. There are real people and real emotions tied to what we did in this class.”
Through the Grant Writing class, Miles Amende, a senior double majoring in English and Media & Journalism, learned that grant writing can be complicated, but said it’s exciting to have been successful in helping a local organization receive a grant.
“We were cautioned at the beginning of the semester that it’s more common not to receive grants than it is to receive them since so many organizations are competing for the money, but we turned around and got two of the three grants we wrote for,” Amende said. “I’m very proud to have worked as a part of a team to fund a project that will help alleviate food insecurity in Clay County.”
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Students in the University of South Dakota’s Grant Writing English class last fall wrote a grant proposal that recently earned the Vermillion Food Pantry a $5,000 grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation. The funds will help renovate a bus that will serve as a mobile food pantry in Clay County, South Dakota.