The Epic-Cure Almost Monthly Newsletter – July 2021
Open Invitation – if you volunteer in St. Augustine, we’d love to have you join us in
Palatka, and if you volunteer in Palatka, we’d love to have you join us in St. Augustine.
Please see p. 5 for the newest Founders’ Challenge –
to help us buy our warehouse in Palatka!
• The Power of Volunteers
What 13,633 volunteer hours have accomplished in the first half of 2021:
Note: Operating costs do not include $165,000 spent on infrastructure, emergency management costs, fundraising costs and bishop's storehouse grant spending. The $332,592 represents true operating costs
- rent, utilities, fuel, insurance, supplies, etc.
How value is calculated:
FNF assigns a value to orders and mobile pantries. The values are determined by an independent auditor each year, hired by Feeding America. The entire report is about 85 pages and is not publicly available. To summarize, there are 29 different product categories that are used in a standard retail inventory system (deli, dairy, bakery, non-food, etc.) Each of these categories are analyzed and given an average value per gross pound. They use those audited values in their system to generate the estimated value.
The value of all other items received is calculated by assigning a price of $5.00 per pound for meat and $1.00 for all other food (deli, dairy, produce, dry goods and non-food).
Additional People Served Not Factored Into Chart Above and Graph Below:
We talk a lot about our St. Augustine and Palatka warehouses, but we do not often mention our 2nd St.Augustine warehouse. We operate our food rescue operations out of Unit #1, but we also have Unit #3 that we share with Hugs Across the County and Hopeful Handbags. Hugs Across the County provides 5 days’ worth of gently used, teenager approved school clothes, including new shoes, socks and underwear, to any child in St. Johns County referred by school counselors. Hopeful Handbags provides support including temporary housing, business clothes and shoes and handbags full of hygiene and inspirations material for women escaping and recovering from domestic violence.
It has been an amazing partnership with these agencies over the last year+. With Hopeful Handbags we delivered almost 20,000 meals to seniors at home during the height of the pandemic.
With Hugs Across the County, we provided weekend food for over 10,000 students and their families last summer. We also worked together to provide food for 9 emergency Title 1 school pantries all year. Title 1 schools have a student base where at least 40% come from low-income families. The schools we serve have a student base where close to 80% come from low-income families.
This summer with Hugs Across the County and the St. Augustine High School Yellow Jackets football
team, we are providing weekend food for over 100 students at the Boys and Girls Club, Homeless
Coalition and Woodlawn Terrace Apartments. Weekend food consists of a bag of dry goods (20 to 30lb combinations of spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, jelly, canned fruit, orange juice, soup, raisins, almonds, etc.), a box of mixed produce, fresh fruit and snack packs (single serve cereal, juice, shelf stable milk, fruit cup, granola bar and other snacks).
Yes, we were doing much more last summer, and we had the capacity to gear up for more this summer, but the access to dropping off food for kids at schools we had last year proved too difficult to manage with the school district this summer. So, Hugs just opened new channels for us to reach as many as we could.
Since we had the capacity and a willing distribution manager, we are also working with Pastor Delphine Sands of Remnant Church to provide weekend food home deliveries to 18 families and 100 snack packs to children at Victory Preparatory School in west St. Augustine.
Long explanation, but those programs and overflow dry storage for Unit #1 are what we use unit #3 form. So far in 2021, we have provided snacks and/or weekend food to 5,233 students.
Since this topic covers people served that are not included in the graph, this year we have also provided meat for AMVETS and VFW to prepare meals for 3,400 veterans and weekly meat and groceries to the 30 residents of SAYS to help reduce their program operating costs.
We have been increasingly aware that for a 100% volunteer organization to be sustainable, we need to have teams of people trained for each aspect of the operations. We are at a threshold where, to get larger grants, we have to prove that if a few key people leave, the organization can continue to function. Most organizations prove that they are sustainable through paid employee infrastructure. How have we have gotten around this requirement? Our amazing volunteer Linda McDonald has put all volunteers’ hours, by person, date, and location, into a spreadsheet (St. Johns only). With that data, we can show over a year’s history of our large and regular volunteer base providing the ongoing support needed – without paid employees.
Currently, we do have teams in place for a lot of things, but we have to get all jobs covered to continue making that argument. We have been writing a detailed operations guide to identify and detail the functional areas we need to strengthen. As we continue to work on the guide over the next month, we will begin to make a list of jobs for which we need additional coverage or back up.
Note: our app for volunteer hour tracking and patron sign in is expected to be ready for a trial run
towards the end of July. So, we will have a lot of improved and expanded data to analyze.
Here is our PIPS (Pounds In & People Served) graph:
Notes on the graph:
The decrease in pounds in was due to the continued decrease in mobile food pantries discussed in the June newsletter. We did 8 in April 5 in May and only 1 in June. The anticipation in July is that pounds in will remain relatively steady but people served will
Affecting pounds in: While we have more larger intake days (Friday intakes average 30,000 pounds) in July, USDA (average 12,000 pounds) will be closed for inventory 1 week in July. The only wild card is if the Bishop’s Storehouse Grant orders begin arriving in July – see Fundraising below.
Affecting people served: We have more larger people served days (Friday intakes average 470 and Saturday intakes average175) in July than June. And, we have a distribution location in Crescent City serving the migrant community that we are working to develop into a bi-monthly regular distribution. To support that location, we will begin making use of the FNF shopping floor at
their warehouse in Jacksonville. We have at least one truck free every Wednesday we can deploy there to pick up and move food that way. Our distribution managers for Crescent City, Monica and Francisco Sanchez will be going with Sunny to tour the FNF warehouse and shopping floor on 7/15 to see how it works and get authorized as shoppers.
Sustain U. – It was a rough month for Sustain U. Both the 5 Star Veterans Center and Wounded Warrior Project cooking classes were postponed. We are working on rescheduling these classes and will certainly keep you posted on this vitally important initiative.
In the meantime, we are ready to get our cooking classes for Title 1 middle school aged children up and running again. This is THE critical program in which we will strive to change outcomes for disadvantaged youth.
How that program works:
Using senior volunteers, we teach 5 middle school aged children how to prepare a menu set by our Cooking Program Director (also a senior volunteer). The recipes will be placed in a binder that also includes kitchen conversion charts and other educational and nutritional information. If children
progress to the next session, we will add the lesson sheets to their binders.
Classes will be held twice a week after school. During class, they will be taught the techniques to
prepare the meals and then will share the meals – dining together – at the end. We will give them all of the ingredients and equipment (equipment they keep) they need to prepare the meal at home the next day for their families. At the beginning of the next class, they will discuss how their home practice went.
We target middle school children because they are at an age where they can enter the workforce.
Our goal is to build resumes based on the skills they learn in class and work with local restaurants to get internships for them when they are ready.
The first class is always Knife Skills. Why knife skills first? If you work in the kitchen, you will have to use a knife. We want to develop a safe, efficient foundation from which to grow – so knife skills and vegetable soup it is. We throw in an amazing chocolate cherry cake to keep it fun.
All volunteers working with children are fingerprinted and have a background checks through the DCF (the Department of Children and Families), for which we pay.
Volunteer opportunities for this program are below. We will need some dedicated, passionate
volunteers to make this the success it has the potential to achieve.
• Communicate equipment needs for lesson plans to parents to see what supplies we need to
have to give away at each class.
• Organizing equipment and supplies for kids to take home.
• Recipe/course development.
• Ingredient list creator. We will need the list for all 8 classes a month before classes begin so
we can begin to pull dry goods from food rescue as appropriate, again to reduce cost.
Ideally, each recipe would be entered into a database so that when we select the
combinations for each week, a shopping list will be automatically generated.
• Shop at Summer Breeze and our warehouse weekly for perishable ingredients for that week’s
class. Bargain shopping with our tax exempt certificate for dry goods and perishables
needed that cannot be found through food rescue. Cost of supplies will be reimbursed
weekly. The average cost per class for the first 3 – 8 class sessions was $100, which
included the cost of equipment purchased.
• Skill tracker for each student’s resume building.
• Making recipe binders for new students and making insert sheets of new course recipes to
add to binders of existing students
• Teaching – You will need a food manager certification (this is a 10 hour course) and
background check, both of which we will pay for. Helpers only need a background check.
Teachers can work without the food manager certification with Sunny in attendance at class,
so that is not an immediate need, but it will be required in the long run.
If you are interested in any of the volunteer opportunities around cooking classes, please reply to:
with the job(s) you are interested in. We will schedule planning sessions in the coming weeks. Once we have volunteers in place, we will reach out to Woodlawn Terrace Apartments where we were conducting classes before Covid and The Boys and Girls Club where we were requested to begin conducting classes, again before Covid. As we build our volunteer base, we will add locations.
• We continue to look for a monthly mobile distribution site for a location in one of the
following zip codes: 32257, 32258, or 32259.
• An easy, impactful way you can help us it to please save and drop off your grocery store
plastic bags. You will be reducing waste by allowing us to re-use them and you will be
saving us money by reducing the number we have to purchase.
• If you are interested in seeing first hand things like store food rescue pick-ups, home
deliveries, summer weekend food packing/distribution, warehouse
sorting/stocking/distribution, mobile farmer’s market food distributions, Hub shopping, FNF
shopping floor in Jacksonville, etc., just reply to firstname.lastname@example.org with what you are
interested in and we will contact you to arrange.
To hear about ongoing volunteer opportunities, please join our Facebook Volunteer Group. Charity
Roberts, our volunteer coordinator, posts details about our needs every week.
Grants & Fundraising:
• Awarded the No Kid Hungry Grant for $75,000. This grant is specific to the purchase and
installation of an industrial generator and 2 freezer container units for the Palatka warehouse.
Industry expert Eric Bierman from Cool Jax Transport is stepping in again as our volunteer
project manager. Can’t mention enough how valuable his advice on set up and expansion
planning for both warehouses has been.
• $20k Challenge. Sunny and I are pledging $20,000 and are looking for 20 people to
match us. Yes, we know it’s a lot, but the reason is critical to the survival of Epic-Cure and our
ability to continue expanding our reach of food rescue and helping people experiencing
need. To date, we have invested $85,000 in cold storage, electrical upgrades,
improvements, and equipment for the Palatka warehouse. We are about to invest $75,000
from the No Kid Hungry grant for cold storage and the commercial grade generator so we
will be prepared to fulfill our duties as an emergency management food shelter.
o That’s $160,000 invested in the Palatka warehouse so far!
We are in the process of writing grants to repave the parking lot (Clay Electric), to paint and tile
the office spaces to be used as free medical clinics, and to install a commercial kitchen to teach
cooking classes on site (Flagler Care Connect).
Currently, we lease the building in Palatka. It is a 15,000 square foot industrial warehouse with 8
rollup doors on 3 acres with a private road. The building is not actively for sale, but we have had
people inquire of us about purchasing it, so we know he is hearing from others as well. If we
cannot match an acceptable bid (we have first right of refusal), we will lose that space at the end
of our lease. Finding another adequate space would be extremely difficult and the cost to move
would be crippling. Three months ago, we were given the estimated selling price of $850,000.
Given that we have very little committed monthly support
• only $475 per month in recurring donations,
we need a significant down payment to secure funding. With $420,000 from a successful
matching campaign, we would have the leverage to start negotiating a firm sales price and get
funding for the difference. Our current rent is $6,250 per month. With a down payment like
that, we will have the additional benefit of reduced monthly cost. We estimate the monthly
mortgage payment on the remaining $430,000 to be about $2,800 each month (excluding tax
and insurance escrows), saving us around $3,450 each month or $41,400 each year (again, this
calculation does not include taxes and insurance).
We will have several information nights over the next few months to try and create the
momentum to get this capital raise accomplished. If you or someone you know would like to
attend, please let me know, and I will add you to the invite list.
• The Church of the Latter-Day Saints has reorganized their grant process. Rather than granting
a specific dollar amount for us spend on orders from their warehouse in Jacksonville, they
now allow approved agencies to order shipments by the semi-truck load directly from Utah.
We are thrilled to be one of those agencies!!!
With this grant, we will offer highly desirable hygiene products food stamps cannot buy, stock
pantry staple items that are hard to get substantial quantities of through food rescue, and
expand support of our partner agencies and programs.
We took a poll of what items agencies would like us to stock for them and added those to our
initial order. The timing is uncertain – this is a newly launching program, and they allowed us to
order before it was even finalized – but we will push the food and hygiene products out at all of
our distributions and to our agency partners as soon as they come in. One of the things our
patrons loved most was getting toilet paper. Food Stamps cannot buy it, and it is expensive. So,
we ordered 8 pallets to start.
Our warehouse inventory management system developed by the 2021 senior class at UNF will
be put to use with this tremendously valuable resource for the community and our agency
This is another asset to the community that we need to protect through the purchase of the
Anyone who wishes to see Epic-Cure’s financial statements need only ask.
• Please email your requests to Sunny Mulford: email@example.com
Please watch the movie “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste.”
You can watch it on Amazon or Netflix.
Or, you can "check out" a DVD at our warehouse.