Community Foundation funding has enabled the Winchendon Community Action Committee (CAC) to address food insecurity, poverty, and chronic health conditions faced by town residents through the Sunshine Café & Farmstand (SFC) Capital Project.

The $3,619 grant is helping to allow the SFC, the newest addition to Youth Changemakers that was launched in spring of 2022, to grow organically from resident and youth engagement to reach a new level of sustainability and impact.

“In addition to the food pantry and emergency services, we recognize that we must also increase access to healthy food, build our local economy and empower residents who are most impacted by these issues to define and lead the change in partnership with institutions and government,” program manager Miranda Jennings expressed in a grant impact report.

The majority of the SFC program has been implemented on schedule. Youth leaders were hired and trained last year, equipment and remodeling of the indoor space for the cafe and farmstand were purchased by the beginning of this year, and the grand opening was held in February.

They have hosted "From our Pantry to Yours,” which features cooking demonstrations and healthy and affordable recipes and samples three days a week using the purchased equipment and recipe cards are distributed. A community advisory board was formed in February and is working to design a survey for clients to capture impacts and feedback for improvement.

Youth Changemaker and Founder/Director of the Sunshine Café Angelina Dellsanta shared that “from the beginning of this initiative, the Sunshine Café has left visible impacts on the lives of both Winchendon youth and adult residents.”

“The Sunshine Café started as a small pushcart that was donated by one of our local schools,” the high school student conveyed. “A group of teenagers who saw that there was no true dedicated space for youth in Winchendon took it upon themselves to start this initiative, and since then have had the opportunity to change the perspectives of Winchendon residents one cup of coffee at a time.”

She went on to say that the café “had humble beginnings” and that their team “would work together and attend community events and sell coffee to residents, trying to spread the word about why it is so important to have spaces for residents of all ages in small communities such as Winchendon.”

“As time progressed and we got our name out there, more and more, we began to experience the outward support for our mission and through the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, received funding to create a year-round indoor cafe space equipped with commercial-grade equipment and supplies.”