China Grove agrees to aid nonprofit mission

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, January 10, 2023

CHINA GROVE — After declining to grant a nonprofit’s initial request for aid from COVID-relief funds last month, China Grove officials returned from the holidays feeling a bit more generous.

During its latest monthly meeting, the China Grove Town Council voted to certify a community services agreement with Main Street Mission for $10,000. The nonprofit originally asked for $35,000.

A community services agreement will allow the town and the nonprofit to enter an arrangement where the private entity uses public funds. It does not create a partnership between China Grove and Main Street Mission.

In the agreement, China Grove outlines how the money can be spent. While the nonprofit’s community outreach efforts are multi-pronged, any spending from the public funds must go toward items deemed to be for a public purpose.

China Grove permitted the aid to be used in one of three areas. The first is Main Street Mission’s Equitable Community Market, which provides access to healthy foods by using an income-based sliding scale to address food insecurity while partnering local farmers with local consumers.

Secondly, the town considered Main Street Mission’s Food Pharmacy Program, a partnership with local providers like the Rowan County Health Department, Community Care Cline and Salisbury Pediatrics, to refer families for receipt of the weekly meal kits. The recipes encourage healthy eating and are priced at 55 percent below retail.

Main Street Mission also has a Getting Ahead Program, which offers multiple 15-week programs designed to help individuals assess and build resources to move to a more stable life. China Grove determined all three of those efforts to have a public purpose, making them acceptable for funding.

Council member Cheryl Sheets was the loudest voice at city hall in support of granting aid to the nonprofit that she sees as valuable to the community.

“They are not a traditional charity,” Sheets said. “They really do a good job to help people overcome their situations. It is an amazing impact that they can make on a person’s life.”

Funding for the agreement comes from the American Rescue Plan Act. China Grove received $1.3 million from the federal package. Given the amount of aid China Grove received from Washington, Sheets indicated that she would have liked to see Main Street Mission receive more.

“The whole spirit of the (American Rescue Plan Act) was to bring back or to help those who were most impacted during COVID,” Sheets said. “Knowing what Main Street (Mission) had done and what they had given back to the community, to me, the $35,000 to meet their deficit was just a small amount.”

Sheets voted to approve the measure during last week’s meeting because she was glad the nonprofit could at least “get something.”