New Grants to Help Needy Survive These Tough Times

With an unprecedented number of Central Floridians struggling to make ends meet, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has approved two grants totaling $200,000 to support local organizations that are working to keep up with the increasing need for food and other basic services.

WPHF recently approved a $100,000 grant to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to be used to expand the Pantry Plus Program in Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park for six months, and a $100,000 grant to the Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) for its Basic Needs Campaign.

“While the Foundation remains focused on its mission of helping the local community become the healthiest in the United States, we recognize that it is tough to promote healthy eating and active living to families who don’t have enough food to eat or are struggling to keep a roof overhead,” said Patricia Maddox, President & CEO, Winter Park Health Foundation.

“We are pleased to be able to respond to these urgent needs while remaining true to our mission,” said Ms. Maddox.

The Second Harvest Food Bank grant covers the Pantry Plus program which will enable residents in Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park to get family food boxes that will include 15 nonperishable food items. The award will support distribution of an estimated 6,000 boxes which equates to about 120,000 meals.

A portion of the Second Harvest Food Bank grant also will help the agency launch The Genesis Project designed to identify, recruit and foster the growth of new pantries in the Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park.

“In the past few years, Second Harvest Food Bank has seen a 152% increase in need for food – 732,000 people in Central Florida received help last year; about 25% of our total population,” said Dave Krepcho, President and CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank. “These funds will provide thousands of additional meals by supporting new and innovative programs.”

The $100,000 grant to HFUW supports its Basic Needs Campaign. Launched in May 2009 with support from a collection of organizations including WPHF, the program enables local residents to get financial help meeting emergency needs such as rent or housing, utilities, food and other essentials.

Intended as a temporary response to the economic crisis, the initial funding is nearly gone though needs continue to grow.

“The ongoing economic crisis continues to place an unprecedented burden on the community, including nonprofit agencies,” said Robert H. (Bob) Brown, HFUW President & CEO.  “Two-thirds of the people calling the United Way 2-1-1 resource and crisis help line, are consistently asking for help with rent and utilities.

“Partners like Winter Park Health Foundation have allowed United Way to provide immediate financial relief to residents seeking help for basic human needs.   United Way covers the campaign’s full administrative expenses so that every dollar donated goes directly to assist individuals and families by keeping them in safe and stable housing, putting food on the table and keeping their lights on.”

With these two grants, the WPHF since 2009 will have contributed nearly $300,000 to the HFUW’s Basic Needs Campaign and $192,250 on the Second Harvest’s Pantry Plus program  to serve residents in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville.