Food banks, soup kitchens lose state and other aid as need for services grows

Discussion in 'Economy' started by hvactec, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. hvactec

    hvactec VIP Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    New Jersey
    Charities and agencies that help people who are poor and unemployed are bracing for what could be a flood of needy people seeking help after state welfare rolls are cut by about 41,000 people next month.

    Adding to the dire situation: State money collected to help poor people with heating bills remains in legal limbo, and agencies that help poor people are seeing federal and state funding shrink.

    According to the state Department of Human Resources, 43 agencies -- food banks and soup kitchens -- have been cut from Emergency Services funding for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Last fiscal year, they received a total of $1,261,659 in funding.

    On Oct. 1, the Michigan Public Services Commission was to distribute about $62 million to groups such as the Salvation Army and the Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) to provide utility assistance to poor people. But that money has been placed in an escrow account pending an appeal by the commission.

    Commission spokeswoman Judy Palnau said that a state Court of Appeals panel ruled in July that the collection of a surcharge on utility bills for the Low-Income Energy Efficiency Fund doesn't fall within the commission's statutory powers. This means thousands of people who hope to receive assistance with their winter bills through THAW and other agencies may have to look elsewhere for help.

    A state law passed in July limits welfare cash assistance to 48 months. About 41,000 people statewide will likely lose cash assistance payments starting Nov. 1.

    William Long, interim executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, said there has been an overall 30% decline in food help from major sources -- federal, state and private. Food banks "may have to reduce the volume of food given to families," he said.

    Gerry Brisson, senior vice president of advancement for Gleaners Community Food Bank, said, "It's obviously hard. We're going to work at fund-raising to replace those funds."

    Friendship House in Hamtramck is already feeling the pinch from the state. For more than a decade, Friendship House received an annual $12,240 grant from the state Department of Human Services, which it used to buy food.

    Last month, the charity was told its grant was cut. Friendship House helps 1,100 to 1,500 people a month with food, clothing and utilities, said Friendship House executive director Linnea Berg.

    "I'm afraid we're going to see a big influx of people into the shelter system," Berg said.

    read more about the Great Depression of 2011 here Food banks, soup kitchens lose state and other aid as need for services grows | Detroit Free Press |

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