The Leon Levine Foundation on Thursday offered matching grants of $50,000 to Loaves & Fishes and $75,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank to cover food shortages.
In addition, the foundation gave Second Harvest $50,000 more that doesnt require a public match.
The matching grants came on the same day the Observer published an article noting a 30 percent decline in food donations this season for Loaves & Fishes. The agency distributes food directly to the poor via 19 pantries in Mecklenburg County, while Second Harvest supplies food pantries across the region.
The matching grants mean Loaves & Fishes could get up to $100,000 and Second Harvest could raise up to $150,000, if donors pitch in.
I was literally speechless when I heard, said Beverly Howard of Loaves & Fishes. The Levines are giving themselves and rewarding other people for giving.
The agency had projected that the drop in donations would require spending an additional $56,000 in coming weeks to buy more food for its pantries.
December is one of the charitys busiest months, with 12,000 expected clients.
Second Harvest Executive Director Kay Carter said she was deeply grateful for the grant, which is the latest in a series of Levine Foundation gifts that have aided her agency. These funds will provide an opportunity to feed thousands of hungry children and seniors, Carter said.
Tom Lawrence of the Levine Foundation said founders Sandra and Leon Levine gave to both agencies as a way of noting hunger goes beyond the countys borders. Second Harvest distributes food to pantries in 19 counties.
The two matching grants mean every dollar given to the two charities will be matched with a dollar.
Loaves & Fishes and Second Harvest receive a tremendous amount of donated food, which is important, but cash is something they use to fill the gaps in nutrition, Lawrence said.
Our hope is that, because the need is now, contributions will come in by the end of the year.
Earlier this week, Loaves & Fishes reported it also had suffered a 14 percent drop in cash donations, attributed in part to donors tapping their funds to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.
However, the dip seemed to be reversing itself on Thursday, as the charity began receiving dozens of credit-card gifts by phone as well as donations via its website, Howard said.
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