Bounty & Soul receives more than $200,000 in critical funding

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Bounty & Soul has received critical funding totaling more than $200,000.

Bounty & Soul has received two grants totaling more than $200,000.

The first grant, from Dogwood Health Trust, will give the organization $190,000 over a span of three years.

Founder and executive director of Bounty & Soul Ali Casparian said the organization has a relationship with Dogwood Health Trust and there was a conversation around Bounty & Soul needing longer-term funding rather than a one-time grant.

“That’s significant for a nonprofit to have multiyear funding,” Casparian said.

The second grant is a one-time award of $20,000 from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina Human Services. These funds will go to helping with Bounty & Soul’s Produce to the People program that works to bring food to those in need.

A news release announcing the grants said Bounty & Soul has seen a 280% increase in participation in its markets.

“That number continues to grow because of the economic fallout of the pandemic,” Casparian said. “We are still seeing an increase in the number of people that are food insecure and nutrition insecure.”

Casparian said this is because of rising costs in housing, food and transportation.

She said a unique feature of these grants is that they are able to be used for staffing costs.

“A lot of grant funders don’t support staffing requests, and both these funders understand that staff play a critical role in delivering programs and services,” Casparian said. “Both of these grants help support staff time, which is critical because you need the people an the power to do that.”

Bounty & Soul currently hosts drive-thru markets at the old Bi-Lo parking lot in Black Mountain, but hopes to return to in-person markets this spring.

With the 280% increase in participation in markets does not come with an increase in food donation, Casparian said. In fact, Bounty & Soul has seen a 50% decrease in donations.

Food costs are also rising, but Bounty & Soul partners with local farmers to provide fresh food for market participants in a program called Farmers Alliance. Casparian said this helps both the organization and the farmers.

“That’s also a critical piece of what we do,” Casparian said. “While we’re addressing food insecurity, we’re also looking at how are we finding solutions to a broken system?”

While markets have been drive-thru as a result of the pandemic, Casparian said Bounty & Soul has been planning to reopen for in-person shopping this spring.

She said she wants to keep up the spirit of Bounty & Soul and keep giving people the resources they need.  

“Everything we do is a celebration,” Casparian said. “We have fun. We’ve got music playing, people in costumes. We are good stewards of funding. It’s not just in transactional terms, but relational terms. It’s important.”