Social service agencies that feed and shelter the poor and homeless and provide one-time help with rent, mortgage payments and utility bills have been awarded nearly $567,000 in federal grants.
The funding will go to 20 agencies in Stanislaus County, from $9,000 to the Westside Food Pantry in Patterson and $28,000 to the United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock to $107,000 to The Salvation Army in Modesto.
The 20 agencies include ones that provide shelter for women and children who are at risk of domestic violence and for homeless and runaway teens.
The annual grants are part of the federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program. The agencies should receive the money by mid- to late February, said Rebecca Ciszek, executive director of the Stanislaus County Chapter of the American Red Cross, which administers the program.
The money can mean a lot to nonprofits stretched thin by the economic downturn.
The Second Baptist Church food program in west Modesto was awarded $8,000, which is 20 percent of the program's $40,000 budget, said director Jim Tyler.
Depending upon the time of month, the program hands out food to 75 to 200 families every Thursday. Tyler said demand has grown 10 percent to 15 percent since the recession.
"But we are seeing a different type of person," he said. "They are working people, or used to be working people. People in the community who once were our supporters, some of them are now coming in for food."
Turlock's We Care program was glad to receive $12,000 but that's half of what it requested and needs to keep its men's winter shelter open through March.
Director Maris Sturdevant said she will review her budget to see where the shelter's finances stand with the addition of the $12,000.
Every agency that applied was awarded funding, but the requests totaled almost $754,000, about $187,000 more than the grant, Ciszek said.
This year's award of $566,683 was less than last year's award of $619,358. Ciszek said the federal government considers a county's population, unemployment and poverty level when making its allocations. Still, the $566,683 is the second highest amount the county has received in at least 17 years.
Ciszek said agencies should not expect to get a boost as they did in 2009 from federal stimulus dollars. Last year, Stanislaus County received $290,285 in stimulus funding for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program.
"It's my understanding that EFSP doesn't expect stimulus funding this year," she said.
The local funding decisions were made by a 20-person board, which met last week. The board's composition must mirror the composition of the Emergency Food Shelter National Board Program.
That means representatives from the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities serve on it, even though these organizations were awarded funding. (The Red Cross was awarded 2 percent of the grant to administer the program.)
Ciszek -- who does not serve on the board -- said representatives from these agencies did not vote on funding requests for their agencies. They also did not advocate on behalf of their agencies.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2316.