CHICAGO -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America(ELCA) awarded $826,750 in grants to projects that address hunger andpoverty in urban and rural communities across the United States. Through the church's Domestic Hunger Grants program, projects werefunded in three distinct areas: direct relief, projects and activitiesthat provide direct access to food, temporary shelter, clothing andmedical supplies; community development, activities and projects thataddress the systematic causes of hunger and poverty; and communityorganizing, broad-based multi-issue organizing in communities to"empower the poor, bring voice to the voiceless and empower thepowerless."
The domestic hunger grants committee received 396 applicationsrequesting more than $2.5 million, said Trudy Brubaker, acting directorfor community development services, ELCA Division for Church in Society.The committee disbursed about $826,750 to 295 sites. "Priority was given to applications that addressed people with theleast resources for meeting their basic needs, and women and childrenwho live in poverty," Brubaker said.
"The average grant was $2,500. There were more direct reliefapplications this year, asking for more money to buy food for pantriesand soup kitchens. We heard from many folks who said they are seeingmore people in their food pantries and soup kitchens than ever before.One place reported that 89 percent of their clients are working, justunderemployed," she said.
In the relief area, 153 of 204 applications received fundstotaling $355,250. In the development area, 90 of 117 applicationsreceived funds totaling $285,400 and, in the organizing area, 52 of 75applications received funds totaling $186,100.
The committee met here March 10-12 to review applications and makedecisions. Criteria used to select grant recipients include activitiesthat relate to relief (immediate access to food, shelter, clothing,medical supplies and care), sustainable development (adequate housing,jobs, health care and disease prevention), community organizing,education and advocacy.
The program offers a "Domestic Hunger Grants Catalogue" todescribe how the grant program works. "The catalogue lists all currentgrant recipients and provides a brief description for each," said AaronM. Cooper, writer and editor of the catalogue, Division for Church inSociety. He said the 2003 catalogue will be available in July athttp://www.elca.org/dcs/hunger.grant.html on the Internet.
By Albert H. Lee