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St. Paul’s, Urban Acres Get Grant For North Valley Community Kitchen

A partnership between St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Urban Acres received one of Impact Central Illinois' annual grants, with an award of $102,500 going toward their Springboard Kitchen concept.
Impact Central Illinois
A partnership between St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Urban Acres received one of Impact Central Illinois' annual grants, with an award of $102,500 going toward their Springboard Kitchen concept.

A dual-purpose community kitchen in Peoria's North Valley will become a reality thanks to a grant from Impact Central Illinois.

A partnership between St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Urban Acres will use the $102,500 grant to fund their Springboard Kitchen that will offer space for culinary start-ups and help provide healthy options for people with food insecurity.

“It's an opportunity to bring economic development into the North Valley,” said Urban Acres founder Andy Diaz. “But it's also a way to help the community eat healthier and to move forward with dreams that we've had to make an impact and to give back into our community and our neighborhood.”

This year’s other $102,500 grant was presented to the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria for renovation of its emergency shelter for victims of violence.

By providing a cooking space for culinary start-ups, Diaz hopes the Springboard Kitchen can bolster economic development in the area and across Peoria.

“We've seen all the restaurants that have closed down and food establishments that are struggling right now,” he said. “To give this area the opportunity to grow food entrepreneurs and find what the next big idea will be, I think it's pretty cool. And, and it gives us the chance to develop some of our own talent here in Peoria, and, you know, grow food options for the area.”

The Rev. Jonathan Thomas, St. Paul’s co-rector, said the Springboard Kitchen will work to educate people on healthy dietary options.

“This commissary kitchen will make the culinary aspirations of many food entrepreneurs in our area an achievable goal, and the classes offered to the community will provide hope to countless people who simply need the education and resources to be able to make life-changing nutritional decisions for their families,” Thomas said in a news release.

Diaz said the commercial kitchen side for entrepreneurs will be the first of its kind in central Illinois, and called the collaboration between Urban Acres and St. Paul’s a “unique partnership.”

“Most people think of just the nonprofit side, or just helping people at the lowest rungs,” said Diaz. “What we see is that we can help people across the spectrum, from those who are visiting a food pantry to those who do have food security and have an idea to actually just open their restaurant

“For us, a lot of it was the focus on the entrepreneur and trying to bring economic development. For the church, it was seeing some of that hunger and health needs need to be met. So we can support each other work together in a really great collaboration to bring both of those items to Peoria.”

Diaz said the hope is for the space at 614 Spring Street open by November or December.

The grant for the Springboard Kitchen was one of two awarded Tuesday by Impact Central Illinois, a collaborative-giving organization of 180 women founded in 2019. The grants are funded through annual member contributions and an incentive gift from the Gilmore Foundation.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.