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City Council opts to deny funding request from local food ministry

Sunrise Christian Food Ministry volunteers distribute Thanksgiving Meals during a drive-up event in 2022. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
The Citrus Heights City Council earlier this month voted to approve limited one-time funding to five local nonprofits, but declined to approve an application for funding from Sunrise Christian Food Ministry.

The city’s Finance Committee evaluated six applicants for the fiscal year 2023-24 Community Support Fund, recommending full funding for five of the applicants. The City Council voted in line with the Finance Committee’s recommendations in approving $20,000 for Campus Life Connection to continue operating programs at the Sayonara Center, $20,000 for the Citrus Heights Marching Band, $2,498 for Community Link Capital Region to deliver meals, $82,000 for Meals on Wheels, and $25,365 for Single Mom Strong.

The council also followed the committee’s recommendation to deny Sunrise Christian Food Ministry’s application for $21,600. The committee’s recommendation listed the reason as: “The committee wants a more significant focus on Citrus Heights residents.”

Councilwoman Porsche Middleton questioned the Finance Committee’s recommendation to deny the funding, noting that the organization is a local nonprofit in the city that serves Citrus Heights.

Councilwoman and Finance Committee member Jayna Karpinski-Costa replied saying the organization does “good work,” but noted the application said funds would go toward costs like rent and portable toilets. She also said the applicant takes federal funds to help people living in surrounding areas outside Citrus Heights.

The project description for Sunrise Christian Food Ministry is listed as: “Daily redistribution of recovered food from local grocery stores to those experiencing food insecurity.” The application says about 21,600 people in Citrus Heights were served by the organization during the most recent 12-month period, with that number accounting for about 30% of the total people served by the organization.

The organization’s application also says “Our project is ongoing but aims to increase the number of Citrus Heights families we serve over the next 12 months. We will purchase the on-site portable bathroom as soon as funding is granted to allow clients (and homeless) to use it immediately.”

Sunrise Christian Food Ministry Director of Operations April Jacek submitted a written public comment read into the record by City Clerk Amy Van, where she said the organization has seen a “huge increase in need” for Citrus Heights and surrounding communities.

“By denying our request for Community Support you are sending a message to the residents of Citrus Heights and our volunteers that the work we do does not hold value,” Jacek said.

Mayor Tim Schaefer asked if the Finance Committee was willing to reconsider their recommendation. Karpinski-Costa said she was “not inclined to reconsider” adding the organization can still apply for separate federal Community Development Block Grant funds that are slated to be determined in October.

The city’s 5-0 decision leaves about $30,000 in funding remaining to be allocated from the $180,000 in support funding. A staff report says those remaining funds will be made available for other Economic Development and Community Engagement Grant Programs this year, such as the Neighborhood Improvement Partnership Program and History and Arts Grant Program.

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