Vineyard Community Services arranges to help the vulnerable. The charity provides support across Dakota County ad nearby towns as well. They operate a Fruit of the Vine Food Shelf (FOTV), provide emergency financial help, and even operate a dental clinic. More information on these programs, as well as other social services, are noted below.
Basic needs as well as nutritional support is available from VCS. The service, operating as the Fruit of the Vine Food Shelf, provides food and other non-monetary assistance to Dakota County residents who are hungry and/or in a short term crisis.
When a resident of the region first visits and go through the intake process, please bring identification. This can include a US driver's or international license, citizenship ID, state of Minnesota ID, passport, college student picture, Social Security card, immigration ID, or current lease or utility bill. Vineyard will also offer an opportunity to learn whether you are eligible for nutrition programs offered through the federal government, including Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); school lunches; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and other USDA services.
Vineyard Community Services Food Shelf offers information in English and Spanish. Their bi-lingual specialists are available to assist with applications. If there is a crisis situation around lack of food, then call 952-595-5980.
The aim of the Fruit of the Vine Mobile Food Pantry is to increase access to free, nutritious foods for those faced with barriers in Dakota County. Clients may have the inability to leave their homes, such as being elderly or disabled. Using volunteers from across the region, the Mobile Food Pantry provides home delivery to homebound Dakota County residents who are aged 65 and older, the sick or residents under the age of 65 who have documented disabilities.
Delivery will have a focus on residents of low income apartments, subsidized housing complexes or specific neighborhoods. Groceries are delivered between 11 am and 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday. The enrollment number is 952-595-5980.
In addition to the food services indicated above, Tear Drop Ministries from VCS distributes blankets, jackets, clothing, school supplies, backpacks, and free personal hygiene items. For those who are moving into permanent housing in Dakota County, the non-profit will also offer a house-warming tote filled with cleaning supplies, plates, silverware, cups, utensils,, appliances, and toiletries.
Vineyard Community Services will also occasionally take requests from people who need specific items, such as bicycles or tents. Providing larger items to the needy can be a challenge, but VCS will try to meet the request as part of Tear Drop.
Senior Services offers support to the elderly. This program will focus on helping area seniors as well as their spouses continue living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. One of VCS - Vineyard Community Services critical missions is to provide nutritious food to seniors who are caught in situations of poverty.
When it comes to the food itself, each participant is provided with up to 2 weeks, or dozens of pounds of groceries. The food that is assembled to fit a senior's nutritional needs. This is supplemented with additional items, depending on availability. There is a schedule of pick up times.
VCS Senior Services also assists with the applications for public aid. This will include the screening and enrollment process for federal food programs such as SNAP or Medicare. It also links participants with additional hunger relief programs, applications to Lifeline phone programs, energy bill help, and other senior resources.
Vineyard Community Services provides a number of options for those in need of emergency financial assistance. There may be grants to help pay for gas, electric, or heating fuel bills.
The Community Sharing Fund provides grants ranging from $50 to $500. The money is for individuals, the elderly, families, and organizations with verifiable needs. As part of this process, Vineyard submits requests for grants to cover rental arrears, damage deposits, utility or heating bill costs, medical expenses, transportation, child care fees, and other critical needs.
Funds are limited. Therefore eligibility requirements for a grant include the following. The applicant must reside in Dakota, Ramsey, or Washington County and have contacted all other sources of funding. Also, the applicant can't have received a Community Sharing Fund grant within the last 18 months. Proof of income, employment, savings, and other information is required. If Vineyard is able to help, the the grant needs to pay the bills and the emergency can't be expected to recur in the near future. So the applicant to VCS needs to develop a financial plan to resolve their hardship.
Other energy/heating bill help is arranged too. Many utility providers in Minnesota offer programs funded through customers, shareholders, or local businesses to assist those who have difficulty covering their home heating and cooling costs. There may be money available in Dakota County especially when rates increase. Vineyard will recommend the first step should be to contact your utility company to inquire about such assistance programs.
Some electric or gas providers in the state will also work with customers to set up plans for making payments. One solution is a a balanced payment plan, and this will involve paying a fixed amount every month that helps the customer budget and meet costs.
Another resource is the Vineyard Community Services' Free Dental Clinic. Whether someone has insurance or not, this service provides urgent dental care to low-income residents. It can help the uninsured as well as working poor who lack the funds to pay for needed dental services.
Assistance may be cleaning and exams to prevent serious dental problems. Referrals are given for more extensive needs, such as bridges, root canals, dentures, or other specialty services. To qualify for clinic services from Vineyard, a patient must have an income at 200 percent or less than the federal poverty level, have no dental insurance of any kind. They also need to have a limited income and have no realistic ability to pay for the emergency dental work.
Vineyard Community Services is located at the South Metro Church. The address is 13798 Parkwood Dr., Burnsville, MN 55337. Call 952-595-5980 for information.
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