A $10,000 grant from the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund to East County nonprofit Heaven’s Windows is allowing it to serve thousands of meals to children who might otherwise go hungry. Heaven’s Windows operates on a shoestring budget and the grant is being used to double the nonprofit’s Child Nutrition Program staff that is needed to meet an increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This generous donation has made a huge impact,” said Heaven’s Windows Executive Director Angela Kretschmar. “Had it not been for this funding, we would not have been able to have the staff to get this food packaged, delivered and distributed. We would have been shut down entirely.”

The nonprofit’s Child Nutrition Program has increased the number of meals it serves from approximately 4,500 per month to more than 8,000.

“What I want this story to show is what happens when a community comes together,” Kretschmar said. “We’re just a small organization, but by working with other organizations, we’ve all been able to meet the needs of our neighbors who are hurting right now.”

In addition, staff with the Child Nutrition Program are no longer just dropping off prepackaged supper at licensed after-school sites – those sites have been closed for more than two months – but is delivering and distributing the meals at four separate locations through a grab-and-go model that requires staffers to don personal protective equipment, set up hand-washing stations, and work longer hours.

Parents are grateful for the service. “It’s very good, my kids they like it a lot,” said Raghad Jallo, the mother of two boys, 12 and 17, and a 14-year-old girl. “I want to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you very much.’”

Based in Spring Valley, Heaven’s Window began as a pantry during the Great Recession and works with other charitable organizations and government agencies to provide various emergency services to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Besides the Child Nutrition Program, Heaven’s Window’s Hot Meal Program serves approximately 600 meals each month through food rescued from the Viejas Casino & Resort and elsewhere. In addition, the nonprofit operates a pantry that helps approximately 500 families each month, and it serves as a Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and Feeding San Diego hub from which food is distributed to 15 other hunger-relief agencies. The Hot Meal Program, pantry , and distribution hub remain open.

Most of its funding comes from private donors and government grants.

The Community Response Fund grant illustrates how community foundations are at the forefront of helping those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The Fund – which has granted $9.9 million to San Diego nonprofits and educational institutions impacted by the coronavirus outbreak – is hosted and administered by The San Diego Foundation in collaboration with county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the co-chair of the County’s COVID-19 subcommittee, and was seeded with $1.25 million from The San Diego Foundation and $1 million from San Diego Gas & Electric. Rapid response grants are made possible thanks to thousands of donations from donor-advised funds, businesses and individuals.

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