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Salmon Foundation’s special grant will feed the hungry

The hefty $20,000 price tag for this food processing equipment was covered by grants from generous donors and will help distribute food for the hungry in our area.

Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin was offered a donation of 200,000 pounds of sweet corn from an area processor – a rare chance to distribute a large quantity of fresh vegetables to families in need. All they lacked was a metal detector.

It is required by federal law that all grain-type foods must use a magnetic metal detector to identify and remove any shards of metal that could contaminate the food during harvest and processing.

That, in the estimation of the Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation, is a special project.

Theresa Braatz

The Salmon Foundation, a Community Foundation supporting organization established in 2002 by Carla and the late Dr. Doug Salmon, is known mostly for scholarships and skills enhancement training to lift people out of poverty. “That’s half of what the foundation does,” Theresa Braatz, executive director, explains. The other half is supporting capital campaigns, not-for-profit endowments and special projects.

By “special,” they mean special circumstances, like when the Trout Museum of Art needed emergency repairs to its elevator, or when Habitat for Humanity needed to put its introductory workshop for potential clients on video, in several languages, for non-English speakers, immigrants and others whose work schedules prevented them from getting to Habitat’s live workshops (pre-COVID).

A new metal detector (pictured above) like the one Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin needed — a 6-foot-long conveyor belt through which the food is passed — costs $20,000. The Salmon Foundation grant covered half of the cost. U.S.  Venture provided the balance.

“The Salmon Foundation sees it as a golden opportunity when a relatively modest grant can be used to impact the life of so many in our community,” Braatz says.

“COVID made a big mess of our plans,” says Liz Wollenberg, Director of Development at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. Orders are backed up so far at food processors that they can’t take time to run food donations. Much of the food is frozen so the donation of a metal detector is still a positive for this year’s crops. “We’re just in a waiting game,” she says.

The equipment has arrived and the nonprofit’s staff is trained and ready to use it, when the pandemic ends.

In the late 1990s, Doug and Carla Salmon began to explore ways to give back to the community that had been so good to them.Read their incredible story here.

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