Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced today that Cumberland County has received a federal grant of $93,000 to combat hunger and homelessness and to help families in economic crisis. Franklin County received more than $10,000.
The grant program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Senator Collins is Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee which has jurisdiction over FEMA. The dollars will help fund shelters and food distribution through food pantries and soup kitchens to provide emergency food for hungry people, many of whom are working families and seniors who must put paying for fuel and medication before food.
The Cumberland County Emergency Food and Shelter National Board and the United Way of Greater Portland applied for the grant and funds will support small, volunteer-run organizations in the area and provide 46,500 meals to those who need them. Local non-profits such as Catherine’s Cupboard in Standish, Preble Street in Portland, and Mission Possible Teen Center in Westbrook will be able to help the Mainers who have been hardest hit by the difficult economy make ends meet.
The Portland-based Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative survey of over 700 people accessing food pantries in Cumberland County revealed that 52 percent of families receiving emergency food are employed. FEMA has been supporting community efforts to people in need in Cumberland County for over 12 years.
In Franklin County, the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area applied for this competitive funding, and will use the $10,496 grant to help several food pantries including the Wilton Food Pantry and Care and Share Food Closet address hunger. Some of the non-profits that collaborate with the United Way in Franklin County have seen an increase of people seeking aid of more than 20 percent.
“The weak economy has been tough on families across the country and Maine is no exception,” said Senator Collins. “We have seen an increase in students who qualify for free lunch, high unemployment, and less food going to more people at our food pantries. We think of FEMA as helping American recover from storms, but, in this case, these grants will help Mainers ride out our struggling economy.”
Said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Portland: “The number of people needing critical services such as food and shelter has never been higher, and this funding will provide some measure of relief to a system that is particularly strained right now. Senator Collins has once again demonstrated her deep commitment to the well-being of all Maine citizens.”
Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri Valley Area said, “The people of rural, western Maine are increasingly experiencing challenges, including hunger. This funding will help provide at least 2,328 vulnerable individuals additional meals each month. ”