Loss of FEMA funding a devastating blow to food pantries

NORWICH – The already struggling food pantries and soup kitchens in Chenango County are being dealt yet another devastating blow with the announcement that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) will not be allocating critical money to local emergency food distribution sites this year.

Due to the recent decline of unemployment in Chenango County, the county no longer meets the unemployment benchmark to qualify for EFSP allocations. Moreover, the overall poverty rate in the county is lower than the EFSP poverty threshold. Earlier this month, the Chenango County United Way – the EFSP allocation hub for 17 food pantries and soup kitchens in the county – received a letter from the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program notifying them of the loss.

“We are very disappointed that this has occurred,” said United Way Director Elizabeth Monaco in a written statement. On average, the United Way receives $26,000 per year to disperse among food distribution sites countywide. “I am very concerned about our food pantries and soup kitchens and the families that depend on them across Chenango County. So many of the ‘working poor’ depend on these services to survive and I fear what will happen without funding.”

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