Victory Dream Center of Carbondale is in the running for a $20,000 grant from Walmart as part of the retail giant’s nationwide “Fighting Hunger Together” program. Nationally, Walmart is giving $3 million to local food banks and feeding agencies. The winning food banks are being identified through a voting process on the popular social media site Facebook.

“What the Feeding America campaign is doing is offering 60 different food pantries $20,000 each and then also awarding $45,000 grants to 20 food banks. It’s all being done through this campaign on Facebook through the month of April, Associate Pastor Nathan Cherry of Victory Dream Center said.

He explained that the St. Louis Foodbank, an organization which serves local food distribution centers, nominated the Car-bondale church’s efforts for recognition and the potential grant.

“We are proud to work with so many great agencies like the Victory Dream Center in Carbondale,” St. Louis Foodbank Communications Manager Ryan Farmer said. “Their efforts to fight hunger in Jackson County, particularly childhood hunger, are to be commended and we wish them luck in their efforts to secure this grant from Walmart. We know $20,000 would have a huge impact for those struggling to put food on their tables in the Carbondale area.”

Since its inception in 2010, the Victory Dream Center’s food pantry has distributed more than 1,000,000 pounds of food during its regular distribution times, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays.

“We’ll serve 150 to 200 families each week,” Cherry said. “This grant would be a tremendous boost for our efforts.”

He says that nearly one in four Jackson County children struggles with food insecurity and that the grant would help the church meet the needs of more the 2,000 high-risk children in the county.

“This grant will fund our programs for at least a year,” Pastor Doug Cherry said in a prepared media release. “For a region that has such as strong sense of community like Southern Illinois, there is no excuse that this many of our children, more than 2,000 in Jackson County alone, should be going hungry.”

Facebook users nationwide have the opportunity to vote for one potential grant recipient each day by visiting the Victory Dream Center’s Facebook page. Individuals are allowed to cast one vote daily.

“We’ve coined a phrase around here to grab people’s attention: 30 Clicks in 30 Days,” Nathan Cherry said. “We just need everyone’s support on this. Most folks would be in shock and awe if they could see how far an organization like ours can stretch $20,000.”

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