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    Local Nonprofit Gives Out $100k to Address Food Security

    The United Way of Tompkins County gave out $100,000 in grants to food security organizations, but staff members at UWTC said there are growing needs that still must be met.

    Emma Terwilliger, UWTC director of Community Impact, said there was nearly double the amount of money requested as the amount distributed in grants in the 2018-2019 year.

    Housed under the income section, approximately 10 programs and organizations that combat food insecurity received $100,000 in grants from the Community Care Fund.
    (Photo Courtesy of United Way of Tompkins County)

    There are roughly 14,000 people in Tompkins County who identify as food insecure, Terwilliger said. Through the Community Care Fund, UWTC aids about 10 local programs and organizations that combat hunger and food insecurity.  The United States Department of Agriculture defines  food insecurity as a “lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

    “Hunger and food insecurity are a big issue in Tompkins County as we know from looking at the data,” Terwilliger said. “We try to make sure we reach a diverse number of individuals and meet them where they are.”

    Terwilliger said UWTC supports programs that range from local food pantries to free meal services to educational programs that assist people in growing healthy foods. According to the UWTC annual report, some of these organizations include Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County, Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Foodnet Meals on Wheels.

    She said this year UWTC changed their methods of distributing food security grants.

    Previously, hunger and food security were in a separate fund but have since been rolled into the overarching Community Care Fund, she said. Last year, United Way of Tompkins County distributed $819, 763 dollars of grants to the community through its Community Care Fund.

    “What we’ve found is, this is a need that is growing and we know is present in our community and needs a stable source of funding,” Terwilliger said.

    At its most recent Day of Caring, UWTC collected over 3,000 lbs of food and distributed 100 boxes of donated goods.
    (Photo Courtesy of United Way of Tompkins County)

    Seventy-five percent of individuals in Tompkins County who identify as being food insecure received funding and support from UWTC, according to their annual report. Community Campaign chair, Cal Walker, would like to see UWTC’s efforts also reach that additional 25 percent.

    He said by continuing to market and communicate through word-of-mouth and various media platforms, local residents can be more informed about resources that assist in food security.

    “Sometimes people just don’t know that there are readily available solutions,” Walker said. “We cannot take for granted that people know that these options and opportunities are available.”

    Walker said the goal for UWTC annual campaign is to raise at least $1.9 million dollars, which would break UWTC’s previous campaign totals.

    Gail Belokur, the senior director of Administration at UWTC, said 100 percent of individual donations support programming and services, like food security, because of UWTC’s Corporate Cornerstone Partners program.

    She said by fundraising through their corporate participants, UWTC is able to underwrite all of their administrative and operating expenses.

    “A donor can actually manage their annual giving to both United Way of Tompkins County and all other non profits they’d like to support in one gift and know that all of it is going to go to programming and services,” Belokur said.

    Terwilliger said, by combining the hunger and food security fund with the Community Care Fund, UWTC is strengthening its preexisting partnerships with programs that are working to meet the needs of those who are suffering from food insecurity in Tompkins County.

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