The huge demand for healthy food around Ottawa County, especially the programs that provide lunches for school children, got a major shot in the arm this week as United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT) helped with $10,000 in grants from a package of $228,590 in funds awarded to 17 community-based organizations around the area.
“The $5,000 grant was certainly a boost for Nana’s Food Pantry at The Church of Truth Ministries,” said Annie Hild, whose husband, Brian Hild, is pastor of the congregation. “We see a lot of families in need, and this grant will be special. We desperately need a new freezer right now to handle all of the food donations.”
Cornett said the numbers tell the story of the lunches the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center, and the $5,000 grant will provide help.
“Last year, we fed Port Clinton school kids 70 lunches throughout the summer. With the schools out for the next few months, lunches for the kids will be extremely important,” said Cornett. “With the loss of tax revenue and summer employment in the Port Clinton area, our budgets are going to be very challenged.”
UWGT’s $228,590 in grants were awarded to 17 community-based organizations across Ottawa, Lucas and Wood counties working to combat food-insecurity in the region.
“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented demand for food resources locally,” said Wendy Pestrue, president and CEO of UWGT. “Countless entities who supply children, individuals and families with nutritional support are doing their best to serve those struggling, despite rising unemployment rates. What these organizations truly need are dollars to move their work forward. I am proud to say that United Way is here to help in that effort.”
In addition to the $5,000 grants to the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center and Church of Truth Ministries, grants were awarded to: Mobile Meals of Toledo, $25,000; YMCA of Greater Toledo, $25,000; The University Church, $21,000; Toledo GROWs, $20,000; Perrysburg Schools/Perrysburg Heights Community Center/Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, $20,000; Greater Grace Christian Church ,$18,000; The Mareda Center, $16,650; ProMedica’s Ebeid Institute, $16,380; Mosaic Ministries of South Toledo “4-1-Dine,” $12,000; First United Methodist Church (Bowling Green), $10,560; Food For Thought, $10,000; Brown Bag Food Project, $10,000; Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio, $7,500; Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo, $4,500; and Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center $2,000.
Programs that dollars will help expand include emergency food boxes, distributing vegetable plants, meal kit delivery for seniors and increased pantry-food support.
“One of our most-treasured assets here at United Way is our volunteers. Our Collaborative Impact Cabinet is a collection of residents, with varying professional expertise, who represent the interests of those we serve across Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties,” said Pestrue.
“United Way simply provides the table for discussion, but our amazing and dedicated Collaborative Impact Cabinet volunteers make the official funding decisions. This approach is more than a policy at our organization. It’s a best practice. To truly serve the community well, we need their input.”
UWGT has also allocated $83,500 for weekend snack bags, which have been given directly to Connecting Kids to Meals. As of today, UWGT’s volunteers in small, socially distant groups have donated more than 6,000 service hours to pack 26,000 weekend snack bags since March 17.
“On March 13, I began receiving calls from a handful of community partners who were very worried about food stability in our region, as whispers of layoffs and school-closures began circulating because of COVID-19. Since then, our staff and volunteers have been hard-at-work helping those in need,” said Pestrue.
Since the Emergency Response Fund’s establishment, hundreds of individual donors and nearly 40 corporate partners, businesses and community institutions have given to UWGT, totaling just over $650,000.
“I can’t thank our community enough for the generous support. Food is just phase-one of our approach. Soon, we will need to work towards addressing the next most-pressing issue, which will be done through data, community studies and gathering expertise from our partners.”