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Grass Valley, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2020) – When the community learned about the “Fund the Freezer” project at Hospitality House, they understood its urgency and the response was immediate.

Back in August, Hospitality House launched the Fund the Freezer campaign—a capital campaign effort to introduce a commercial walk-in freezer/cooler at the homeless shelter that would increase the shelter’s ability to accept food donations, purchase in bulk to reduce costs, and in turn, feed more homeless men, women, children, seniors and Veterans. Feeding more people has been a critical task throughout the pandemic and at their peak thus far, Hospitality House was providing 300 meals a day and doing so with little to no storage capacity. While the shelter has one fridge that is several years old and on the brink of failure, it’s too small to adequately store the increased amount of food needed, which meant the shelter has had no alternative but to procure food daily to keep up with demand.

An anonymous donor kickstarted the Fund the Freezer campaign with a $5,000 boost and challenged shelter staff to raise the remaining balance needed: a whopping $12,950. Hospitality House turned to the community for help and was met with the support it needed to make the project a reality.

“Our community understands the paramountcy of this project and impact it will create for years to come,” said Nancy Baglietto, executive director at Hospitality House. “We have no plans of slowing down when housing insecurity is becoming more palpable each passing day. We will continue to provide nourishing meals to multiple sites and the wraparound services needed to help our neighbors return to permanent housing.”

The single overnight shelter shifted into a 24/7 operation in response to the pandemic back in mid-March, expanding into motels around town to help more people and to follow social distancing best practices (a task completed in close collaboration with County of Nevada, FREED Center for Independent Living, Turning Point Community Programs and Spirit Peer Empowerment Center).

On top of their 24-hour expansion, in order to best protect the people they serve and to follow safety guidelines set forth by Nevada County Public Health, the shelter is operating without its 300+ volunteers, which drastically impacts its food operations. Prior to the pandemic, volunteer cook groups would come to the shelter six nights a week with their own donated food and cook for homeless guests. The volunteers continue to donate food and financial support as they can, but food preparation has fully become a staff-driven function with the added challenge of safe food delivery to multiple motels around town. The addition of the freezer will further the shelter’s food storage capacity and ability to respond.

“We are moving as quickly as possible to make the freezer project a reality,” explained Isaias Acosta, operations director at Hospitality House. “In addition to streamlining our meal preparation, the new freezer will offer considerable cost savings. Right now, we don’t have the option to purchase in bulk or readily accept large quantity food donations, but that changes now.”

Hospitality House is on track to introduce its freezer expansion this fall. To help further services to those in need, the community’s support is always welcome and appreciated. Donations may be made at hhshelter.org, by calling 530-615-0852, or by sending a donation made payable to Hospitality House at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.