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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Women and Children’s Free Restaurant closer to fundraising goal

Dante Bandom reacts as he gets a meal of lasagna with a side of broccoli from volunteer Charlotte Stout on  July 5, 2016, at the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen in Spokane, Wash. “Seeing their faces light up, it just brings me joy,” said Stout. Dante was visiting the restaurant with his mom Acina Brandom, and his sister Jada, 13, not pictured. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Dante Bandom reacts as he gets a meal of lasagna with a side of broccoli from volunteer Charlotte Stout on July 5, 2016, at the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen in Spokane, Wash. “Seeing their faces light up, it just brings me joy,” said Stout. Dante was visiting the restaurant with his mom Acina Brandom, and his sister Jada, 13, not pictured. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Women and Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen is one step closer to a $2 million fundraising goal after receiving a $5,000 grant from Avista Foundation.

The grant – which was announced late last month – will go toward a capital campaign that has raised close to 70 percent, or $1.4 million, of the restaurant’s goal. With this money, the free food service hopes to expand and provide additional hot meals to customers.

Executive Director Lisa Diffley said funds raised from the campaign were used in 2014 to purchase a new location at 1408 N. Washington St. The restaurant was previously operating out of the basement of St. Paul’s Methodist Church on Monroe Street.

“We’re already growing in our neighborhood,” she said. “It just gives us the potential to serve the people in our restaurant and serve out more meals.”

Diffley said the restaurant is able to serve about 1,400 meals a week, with a goal of 2,500. In addition to the three days it’s open for service, volunteers also donate meals to at least 10 other social service agencies in the area.

Meals served at the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant start with an appetizer, such as soup or salad. Then, it’s the main course, which is an entree with vegetables. And rounding it out is a dessert and a fruit option.

While the restaurant portion of the organization is only available to women and children, Diffley said the idea is to take care of customers, much like a regular for-profit restaurant would.

“They are greeted and served, their dishes washed for them,” she said. “It’s a dignified experience.”

The $5,000 grant awarded by the Avista Foundation, the community investment branch of Avista Utilities, is part of $72,500 donated this year to local nonprofits in the Inland Northwest and Alaska. Avista Foundation spokesperson Jessie Wuerst said the foundation chose to donate to the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant because of its service to underrepresented populations.

“Part of the focus of the Avista Foundation is to provide support for those programs that help those most in need,” she said.

The majority of the customer base who take advantage of the restaurant’s service aren’t homeless, Diffley said. They are instead employed, but don’t make enough to make ends meet.

“We see people who just need this extra help,” she said.

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