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UW offers assistance to food pantries

For Release (Friday, December 19, 2008) – With the recent ice storm putting an additional burden on households struggling to feed their families, United Way of North Central Massachusetts, working  through local agencies, provided supermarket vouchers to qualified families.

“Many low-income families lost their perishables in the recent ice storm and did not have the money to restock their refrigerators,” commented Phil Grzewinski, president of United Way of North Central Massachusetts. “The purpose of our recently created Community Support Fund is to provide immediate relief for situations like this.” 

The United Way distribution to thirteen food pantries received a boost when Hannaford Supermarket step forward with a $9,500 contribution. In addition, it is providing a five percent additional match on the store vouchers, which Market Basket did as well. 

It is anticipated that over 1,000 families will benefit from the $30,500 distribution. “We can’t thank our Community Support Fund donors enough, especially Hannaford,” noted Grzewinski. 

“During these difficult times, we wanted to provide United Way with the resources to help as many people as possible,” said Molly Tarleton, regional community relations specialists for Hannaford Bros. Co.

Hannaford’s Twin City Plaza store is also hosting a dinner Tuesday afternoon for the nonprofits who partnered with United Way and the supermarket to implement the program. 

Battered Women’s, Gardner CAC, Ginny’s Helping Hand, Salvation Army, Spanish American Center, Winchendon CAC, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Loaves & Fishes, Fitchburg CAC, MOC, Catholic Charities, Our Father’s House and TEO qualified applicants, who received $25 or $50 card to their local grocery store.

In addition to providing the vouchers, United Way made another series of grants, totaling $13,000 to the agencies so they could restock their food pantries or provide other storm relief services, which also included the Montachusett Regional YMCA. 
In October, United Way of North Central Massachusetts created the Community Support Fund to provide immediate emergency relief to individuals and families in the North Central Massachusetts region.

As contributions are received, United Way is directing 100% of the dollars to existing health and human service providers in its 19-town service territory. So far, nearly $90,000 has been collected.

Contributions can be made to the fund by calling 2-1-1, online at or by mail to United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Attn: Community Support Fund, 285 John Fitch Hwy, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

Residents who want to learn about where to go for emergency financial assistance can contact 2-1-1 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or visit The Mass 2-1-1 hotline is prepared to connect callers with help for basic needs and other health and human services.

United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Barre, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.