King County has awarded two grants totaling nearly $6,000 for projects to put a kiosk at the Farmers Market and to help renovate the kitchen at the senior center.
The grants come as part of King County’s Community Service Area (CSA) program, which the county implemented last year as a new way to engage citizens of unincorporated King County. Funding that once sustained various unincorporated area councils — including the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council — is now being funneled to Community Engagement Grants available to any nonprofit with a vision for a project that would enhance its community. This year marked the second round of grants.
Alan Painter, CSA program manager, said the new grant program was more popular throughout the county’s unincorporated areas this year and there was greater competition this time for the $60,000 in total funding. Grants were awarded to 25 different organizations and require a minimum community match of 25 percent of the total project.
The largest grant in the program this year was awarded to the Vashon Senior Center, which is fundraising to remodel its outdated and non-functional kitchen. The $4,930 grant will go to purchase new ventilation and fire suppression systems.
“I was very pleased to get the news. I was speechless,” said Ava Apple, director of the senior center.
The 30-year-old kitchen has been essentially unusable for years, Apple said, and the senior center has been purchasing the weekly lunches it provides for around a dozen people each week from Vashon Community Care. When the center can make its own lunches, she said, she hopes to double the number of seniors who eat there.
“Our focus is on keeping seniors active and healthy, and food is a huge aspect of that,” Apple said.
Refurbishing the 30-year-old kitchen and installing new appliances will cost about $40,000 total. Aside from the CSA grant, the senior center has raised about $9,000 toward the effort, Apple said. She plans to begin soliciting private donations to cover the remaining costs.
“If we come up a little short, we might ask the community to support it, too,” she said.
The Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA), the only other Vashon group to receive a grant, will use its $1,000 award to build a portable educational kiosk for the Farmers Market.
VIGA president Merrilee Runyan said that the organization has a significant library of books and films on organic and sustainable farming, food systems and healthy eating. The new kiosk will provide a place for visitors to check them out and will also hold a bulletin board with information on local farms and VIGA events.
“VIGA’s mission is to support local agriculture through education and marketing,” Runyan said. “We just feel like the market is a real opportunity because that’s where the most people interact with our local food system.”
VIGA expects the kiosk to be completed and at the market next month.