Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center

Sparked by a recent study reporting that thousands of Rhode Islanders are going hungry every day, the Rhode Island Foundation today announced that food banks serving Newport will share $40,000 in special grants.

“While we continue to pursue long-term solutions to poverty, we also support these organizations in providing immediate and critical assistance to struggling Rhode Islanders,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO in a press release today. According to the R.I. Community Food Bank’s 2019 Report on Hunger, Rhode Islanders in need missed over 11 million meals last year.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center received $25,000. The funding will reportedly enable the center to stock its Mobile Food Pantry with enough meat, milk, eggs and produce to continue making its regular twice-weekly visits to local low-income housing complexes for three months.

“With the costs of living in Newport County on the rise, it is more important now than ever to provide innovative solutions to hunger,” said Heather Hole Strout, executive director in a prepared statement.

The MLK piloted the Mobile Food Pantry program in 2018, with the goal of increasing access to healthy food. The Mobile Food Pantry brings food, personal care and household items to low-income housing complexes across Newport County, where lack of transportation is a common barrier.

“We are committed to not only meeting the basic needs of the community, but providing the means for a long-term healthy lifestyle change,” said Strout in the statement.

The East Bay Community Action Program (EBCAP) was awarded $15,000 to support the operations of its community food banks in Newport and East Providence. The organization’s food pantries assist more than 5,000 households annually.

“This support comes at a critical time for our busy food banks. They are often the first place that new clients come to our agency for services.  We will be able to assist families with nutritious food and work with them to determine if they are eligible for additional program supports such as food stamps or heating assistance,” said Dennis Roy, EBCAP’s president and CEO in the press release.

The funding is among $180,000 in emergency grants to seven social service agencies that provide food to low-income households. Also receiving grants from the Foundation are the Comprehensive Community Action Program in Cranston, Connecting Children & Families in Woonsocket, the Jonnycake Center for Hope in South Kingstown, the Jonnycake Center of Westerly and the R.I. Community Food Bank.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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