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Bonner Leaders Address Food Insecurity in Norristown

Sparked by a $5,000 grant from the Bonner Foundation’s Racial Justice Community Fund, Ursinus students are supporting the important work of Centro de Cultura, Arte Trabajo y Educación (CCATE).

CCATE is a nonprofit organization that works to develop the talents and empower members of the Latinx community through culture, art, training, and education. The grant will allow Ursinus students to continue to partner with CCATE on programs that address food insecurity issues while investigating root causes in order to develop sustainable solutions.

Families that are food insecure lack access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious foods, a problem magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic because some parents lost their jobs and children who were forced to learn remotely could no longer rely on school meals.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to partner with an organization that is directly assisting our neighbors in need. This grant will benefit households struggling with food insecurity and our students will also become adept at conducting community-based research,” said Christian Rice, an assistant professor of philosophy and the humanities, assistant dean for civic engagement, and director of the Bonner program.

The three Bonner leaders working on the project—Jenni Berrios ’22, Jadidsa Perez ’21 and Maia Peele ’23—are coordinating different aspect of the project. The project includes the development of a community survey so that CCATE can better understand needs and provide data to local officials about food insecurity in the Norristown area; the development of bilingual pamphlets, which are circulated to families weekly with food baskets; and fundraising.

“Our contributions to the communities around us are important because we get to share our resources with others,” Berrios said. “My team is excited to get connected with community through interviews and community classes. We each have a talent or skill that we can benefit the community. The effort of this outreach shows care and the Latin community feels heard and understood, and not judged by their circumstance.”

The CCATE program began as a partnership with Greener Partners and has grown to

include collaboration with local Mexican businesses, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and community leaders and volunteers, in addition to promoting leadership development for Ursinus students.