Worcester Food Assistance Grants Approved

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners approved plans to divvy up $100,000 in funding among local food assistance organizations next summer.

After opting not to take part in a state program that would have had limited impact in Worcester County, the commissioners on Tuesday agreed to staff recommendations to provide funding for food to Diakonia, Samaritan Shelter, Snow Hill Ecumenical Food Pantry, Worcester County GOLD and the Worcester County Board of Education in the coming year.

After voicing concerns regarding the state’s Summer SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) proposal at their last meeting, the commissioners agreed to give funding directly to local nonprofits rather than potentially match a state grant. Kathy Whited, the county’s budget officer, said staff had reached out to the five agencies listed in the proposal.

“The SNAP grant was to assist families and children in the upcoming summer months,” Whited said. “Our proposal is to work with the same timeframe.”

She said staff proposed giving the board of education $10,000 now, to allow for a hot meal program at Pocomoke Middle School during winter break, and then to distribute the remaining $90,000 to the five agencies in June to assist with summer meals.

Commissioner Chip Bertino questioned whether the money for the school system would benefit children throughout the entire county.

“The need for the food pantries exists in schools across our system,” he said.

Vince Tolbert, chief financial officer for the board of education, said the funding going to the school system would be used throughout the county, particularly to add additional sites for summer food distribution. The hot meal program over winter break, however, is being piloted this year at Pocomoke Middle School to serve students in that part of the county.

Commissioner Diana Purnell pointed out that many area churches provided meals to those in need.

“Everything right now is just going to these organizations and the schools,” she said. “But what about those kids that do not hit these organizations?”

Tolbert said the school system had 17 summer feeding locations in 2019 and with additional funding that number could be increased next year.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the funding distribution as proposed by staff. The board of education will receive $10,000 now to provide hot meals over winter break. In June, the board of education will receive an additional $50,000 while the Samaritan Shelter, Diakonia, Snow Hill Ecumenical Food Pantry and Worcester County Gold will each receive $10,000 to help provide food to children in need.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.