Money isn’t everything, but it’s certainly helpful sometimes. Thanks to today’s $1 million gift from local billionaire William E. Conway Jr., the Capital Area Food Bank will not have to charge members for fresh fruits and vegetables, the Washington Post reports.
Conway, co-founder and managing director of D.C.-based private equity firm the Carlyle Group, learned that rising food costs had forced the bank to implement a 10 cent per pound fee for fresh produce in June. The cost of acquiring fresh fresh foods and veggies is up 31 percent, just as many of the bank’s 700 partners (food pantries and nonprofits) were striving to increase their fresh-produce offerings.
“I had fresh produce last night with dinner. I had blueberries this morning with my cereal. It’s a luxury for some people,” Conway told the Post. “I wanted to try to help.”
Lynn Brantley, president of the food bank, described the news as “like a heavy rock being lifted off.” The donation will allow the bank to reimburse charges since the fee took effect and to float the organization for a year until it can develop a long-term solution for its budget issues.
In the short-term, the Capital Area Food Bank can continue to provide food for the community—it distributed 30 millions pounds of food this fiscal year, a 27 percent increase from last year. Almost half of that food was fresh produce.
Conway’s donation is not his first to the bank—last November, he gifted $5 million to the organization. Fitting that Conway presents the bank with this second gift today at 4900 Puerto Rico Ave. NE, the facility that his first donation enabled. “I thought, if I’m going to try to solve one problem, we ought to really be working to try to solve another problem, too,” he told the Post.