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Grantee Spotlight: Grove Christian Outreach Center

By: WHF Staff

           Imagine living in a community where a number of your neighbors struggle to meet their family’s basic needs. This is a reality for many who live in the Grove area of southern James City County. Grove fits the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s definition of a food desert, an urban area with at least 500 people living further than one mile from the nearest grocery store. Grove is six miles from the nearest grocery, and 21% of the residents live below the Federal poverty line, which makes accessing healthy fresh foods a challenge.

            Recognizing the needs of area residents, Grove Christian Outreach Center (GCOC) started as an outreach mission of a small church in 2000 and opened its doors in 2004 as a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to assisting vulnerable families with food, clothing, and financial assistance. Today, GCOC stands as a beacon of light in James City County emerging from its humble beginnings as a small organization with limited space. In 2023, GCOC expanded its service area to include anyone in need in the Greater Williamsburg community. Last year, nearly 32,000 individuals benefited from their food programs, children’s clothing closet, special holiday programs, and transportation assistance. With regard to the food programs specifically, over 9,500 people from the Greater Williamsburg area accessed the fresh food room and over 18,600 accessed the food pantry.

            Since 2005, the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) has supported GCOC to help reduce hunger and food insecurity for low-income residents. WHF funds have contributed to the purchase of refrigeration units, fresh food distribution including foods to help control diabetes, food access outreach, children’s meal delivery, and lunches for children. GCOC will use WHF’s most recent grant to stock the fresh food room and food pantry with purchases from local farms and food retailers. WHF’s support of GCOC has helped ensure that Greater Williamsburg residents have access to food assistance.

            On Thursday, July 25, 2024, GCOC will partner with Williamsburg House of Mercy from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. for the Sleigh Hunger: Christmas in July Food Drive. Hosted by Habitat for Humanity Restore on Jamestown Road, this food drive will help both organizations restock their shelves so they may continue providing food assistance throughout the summer season. To learn more about GCOC, visit www.groveoutreach.com.

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The Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF) is a private health foundation with the mission to collaborate, innovate, and invest to impact systems that improve the health and well-being of individuals living in Greater Williamsburg. The Foundation was established in September 1996 when the Williamsburg Community Hospital and Sentara developed an affiliation agreement and later merged. This agreement included a provision for a new, locally organized, and managed Foundation to benefit community health. Since inception, WHF has awarded over $110 million in grants to improve community health and well-being.