Emergency food, housing programs in Montgomery County to qualify for increased federal aid – The Daily Gazette

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Federal funding for agencies that provide emergency food and housing assistance will be tripled this year through coronavirus relief assistance.

“The more money there is, the more services we can provide,” said Mary Carpenter, executive director of Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.

In addition to the annual funding allocation of $20,228 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Council for Emergency Food and Shelter program, Montgomery County service agencies will share this $62,521 additional year in supplemental funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Annual stipends through the National Council’s Emergency Food and Shelter program are given to communities across the country to be shared among local organizations providing these services.

Decisions about which agencies in the area will receive funding from the total allocation and how much are made by local boards made up of representatives from the groups that run food and shelter programs.

In Montgomery County, the local council is made up of representatives from the Fulmont Community Action Agency, Catholic Charities, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Montgomery County United Way, Salvation Army, Bureau Montgomery County for Aging, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and Amsterdam Mayor’s Office.

The agencies involved submit applications for a portion of federal funding to support their individual food and housing programs. Other county nonprofits that do not sit on the local council but provide these services may also apply for program funding.

“It can’t go for anything other than those two things,” Carpenter said.

The local council has been calling for applications in recent weeks and is expected to schedule a meeting later this month to decide how to distribute the funding to county agencies, according to Ann Black, deputy executive director of the Fulmont Community Action Agency.

“We try to give everyone what they ask for,” Black said.

The Fulmont Community Action Agency typically receives a portion of funding for its food pantry and rental assistance program for those facing eviction. The Montgomery County Office of Aging normally receives assistance for its Seniors Nutrition Program.

Catholic Charities traditionally accesses funding for its Amsterdam-based housing assistance program and food pantry. The state’s moratorium on evictions and rental assistance during the pandemic have reduced the rate of requests for such assistance locally, according to Carpenter.

The agency will still request $4,000 to support the relief program for people who have been evicted and are denied assistance through the Montgomery County Department of Social Services.

At the same time, Carpenter said the need for food aid has doubled as people face unemployment, soaring prices for goods of all kinds and other impacts of the pandemic.

“I don’t really see it stopping,” she added.

Fulton and Montgomery Counties Catholic Charities served 8,753 people through its food pantry and mass food distributions in 2021. Goods donated to anyone no questions asked during distributions every two weeks from April through October are provided free to the agency through the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

Three to five days of emergency food provided to individuals up to once a month through the food pantry must be purchased by Catholic charities. The agency often gets supplies from the regional food bank where every dollar buys the equivalent of about $8 worth of food.

Catholic Charities is seeking a total of $10,000 to support its food pantry this year from available emergency funding for food and shelter and additional coronavirus relief.

“It’s not a lot,” Carpenter acknowledged.

Pantry management normally costs around $25,000 per year. The Regional Food Bank gives Catholic charities a certain amount of credit each year to cover the cost of goods for the food pantry. Otherwise, the pantry is funded by donations from the community.

Carpenter said having the additional coronavirus aid available to support food and shelter programs was vital due to the growing demand for assistance. Even before the pandemic, she said Montgomery County was called a “food desert” due to the limited availability of emergency aid throughout the county, especially in small rural communities to the west.

“It’s a little harder for people from Canajoharie or Fort Plain to get food here,” Carpenter said. “We would absolutely like to have the delivery at some point. This is of course a dream that I hope will come true at some point in my life.

Once decisions on how to allocate funds to area agencies are made by the local council, Black said the plan is submitted to FEMA and the money then goes to nonprofits. individual.

Montgomery County-based nonprofits that provide emergency food and shelter programs can submit funding requests through 4 p.m. today. Requests can be submitted by email to [email protected]

Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

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