United Way providing $200,000 for 2 agencies to combat hunger

United Way of Central Carolinas announced Thursday that it is providing two agencies a combined $200,000 to help fight hunger in the coming months.

The money for those grants came from the Critical Need Response Fund, a previously dormant fund that was created to help the community during the recession. Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, which serves a 19-county area, is receiving $170,000 and the Loaves & Fishes food pantry for Mecklenburg County is getting $30,000.

“This is an unexpected donation, which is the best kind to get,” Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Beverly Howard said. “We are just very grateful.”

Kay Carter, chief executive officer of Second Harvest, said the money will give her group the opportunity to help a lot of people. “We’re just delighted they thought of us,” she added.

Second Harvest plans to reach out to the agencies it deals with that also work with United Way to gauge their immediate needs.

The fund began in late 2008 as the recession took hold. Originally part of the Foundation for the Carolinas, the fund later moved to the United Way,

After a March 2012 disbursement for food, clothing, winter housing, and rent and utility payment assistance, the fund went dormant as the recession eased.

But the agency kept it open as an option for people during its fundraising campaigns, said United Way Executive Director Jane McIntyre.

She said it made sense to distribute the fund’s money now because a sufficient amount of money had been raised. The agency’s board approved the move at its monthly meeting Thursday.

United Way said it typically does not fund food banks or pantries. But Second Harvest and Loaves & Fishes do a lot of work with groups that are also member agencies of United Way.

Because of the overlap, McIntyre said providing the funds for those two groups was a good way to get the money out to the community.

“These are two excellent agencies ... (and) it’s good to get the money out now before the winter sets in,” McIntyre said. She said the $200,000 represents the final disbursement of the Critical Need Response Fund until the next crisis.

The agency said that with this latest grant, its funding for the fiscal year has hit $17.4 million, an increase of $900,000 from the prior fiscal year.