Niagara Gazette

October 28, 2013

Pantry/sheltering funds to be distributed from $103K grant

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Emergency food and shelter providers have until Nov. 5 to apply for a portion of a $103,200 federal grant received by Niagara County.

The National Emergency Food and Shelter Board awarded grants in high-needs areas around the nation recently.

Niagara County’s 2013 grant is for $10,000 more than it received last year. The money is to be distributed to food and emergency shelter providers around the county, in amounts of no less than $500, according to Kristen LaGamba, vice president of finance and administration for the United Way of Greater Niagara.

A local Emergency Food and Shelter Board will approve the distributions. That board’s membership includes United Way of Greater Niagara President Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, Lockport Salvation Army Maj. John Wheeler, the mayors of the three cities, Celestin Nkounkou, Donald Freeman, JoAnn Mierzwa, Kathleen Hall, Corinne Hayes, Mark Dasher, Nancy Martinez and Robert Hagen.

Applicants must be private voluntary non-profits or units of government; be eligible to receive federal funds; have an accounting system; practice nondiscrimination; demonstrate capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs; and, if they are private voluntary organizations, have a voluntary board.

Applications are available from LaGamba. Call 216-4582 or send an e-mail to

Demand for the funds, and emergency food and sheltering services, hasn’t waned at all here the past few years, according to United Way’s Houwaart-Diez.

“It’s really the working poor that are using the services. They’re making ends meet, but one thing happens that throws off their budget,” she said. “It’s people who have one or two jobs, and children, and they just need a little bit more. That’s what’s scary.

“People don’t think there’s poverty in Ransomville, where I live, but the pantry (there) is feeding 200 families a month.”

Past recipients of local Emergency Food and Shelter funds include Catholic Charities, Community Missions, the Salvation Armies of Lockport, Niagara Falls and Tonawanda, Niagara Community Action Program, Heart Love and Soul, Sister Helen’s Food Pantry, Niagara Falls Housing Authority, St. John de LaSalle Church, Ransomville Free Methodist Church and the Niagara Falls YMCA. Those agencies were responsible for providing 175,595 meals and 11,742 nights of lodging for Niagara County residents, according to the United Way.