The Rush County Community Assistance Food Pantry (RCCA) received $15,000 from the Buchanan Family Foundation of Chicago.

The money will be used to construct a clean kitchen to implement cooking classes for pantry clients and upgrade food storage shelving.

“We want to create an environment that meets Indiana Health Department requirements that will be used for cooking classes and nutrition-education programs,” RCCA Board Member Darilyn Bedel said. “The programs will be tailored to meet the need of participants by promoting healthy food choices and behaviors that will help prevent chronic disease.”

The pantry is working with Gleaners Food Bank and the Rush County Purdue Extension Office to conduct cooking classes. The clean kitchen and shelving are set to be completed by fall.

The money was given to the pantry by Buchanan Family Foundation Director Margaux Buchanan as a non-traditional birthday present for her mother, RCCA Board Member Jennifer Harcourt-Buchanan. The foundation actively supports arts and culture, education, the environment, health and social and human services.

Each foundation board member is allocated $25,000 to support a worthy cause annually. The $15,000 the food pantry received was a part of Foundation Director Buchanan’s allocated funds for 2019.

Bedel and Harcourt-Buchanan have been researching and assessing the best practices of food pantries in the United States for a year and a half. The board has been working with the State of Indiana, Gleaners Food Bank, Feed America and the Ball State University Architecture Department to do so.

The Ball State Architecture Department has presented approved clean kitchen and shelving designs to pantry board members. The board is excited to now have the money to finish this phase of improvements to the food pantry.

RCCA has a commitment from Aldi grocery stores to provide class participants with a crock pot upon completion of a series of classes focused on nutritious one pot meals made from food pantry staples.

Approximately 46 people per week utilize the food pantry as a resource for nutrition.

The food pantry, located at 109 East 3rd St. in Rushville, accepts donations of cash, food and time. RCCA is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers.