School food program, library get community grants

Eight community groups were awarded grants totalling $30,000 as part of the Sussex Area Community Foundation's fall grant applications, according to executive director Miriam Verschoor.

Verschoor said the grants were handed out last Wednesday at Sussex Regional High School. The foundation, formed by a donation to the community from the Leo Forbes estate in 2004, distributes grants twice a year.

"This is one of my favourite things because there's so much need in the community," Verschoor said. "Talking about their projects – It's really nice."

Verschoor said they were hosted at the high school by the Sonics Care Program, one of the grant recipients, which addresses food insecurity by distributing meals made by students for $2 to $3 apiece to 70 students daily. The high school's music program also received a grant for a drum kit, including equipment, to replace broken equipment, according to a statement.

Another grant went to the Sussex Public Library for a community cupboard, which Verschoor said came about when they were collecting donations for the Sonics Care Program and noticed that their clients had a need for food items. She said the cupboard includes non-perishables, personal health and seasonal items.

"Our library is tremendous," Verschoor said.

A grant also went to the Kings County Family Resource Centre for an ephinephrine cabinet for those with allergic reactions, to the Belyeas Cove Community Hall for a generator, to Big Brothers Big Sisters Saint John to expand the mentoring program to the Belleisle area, and to the Gaia Project, the statement said.

"We are so very grateful to the Sussex Area Community Foundation for the grant they provided to us for the epinephrine cabinet, supplies and training that we will now be able to have available in our centre," the family resource centre said in a Facebook post. "On behalf of the parents and children who may need this potentially life saving resource, thank you!"

Verschoor said there's a ninth group that applied, and the foundation is working to set up matching funds for a donation drive.

The foundation's Burger Week also wrapped up this past weekend, and Verschoor said they're still waiting to tally the votes. Donations raised from a portion of burger sales go to the foundation.

"It seems to be pretty positive and lots of people enjoying burgers," she said.

Applications for next year's spring grants are open at and are due by March 13, 2024, according to the statement.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal