FITCHBURG -- United Way of North Central Massachusetts has provided $125,000 in grants to 17 organizations, with the goal of helping to meet the demand for food and utility assistance.

"Unfortunately, the demand hasn't abated, so we are taking this proactive step, so people don't go hungry or cold" commented Phil Grzewinski, president of United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

United Way of North Central Massachusetts created its Supplemental Basic Needs Fund to provide immediate emergency relief to individuals and families in the North Central Massachusetts region.

The following agencies received food cards to be distributed to their clients: Gardner CAC, Battered Women's Resources, Gardner VNA, Loaves & Fishes, Montachusett Interfaith Hospitality Network, Our Father's House, Salvation Army, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Catholic Charities, Ginny's Helping Hand Food Pantry, Spanish American Center, Townsend Ecumenical Food Pantry, Leona Fleming Food Pantry, Fitchburg/Leominster CAC and Winchendon Community Action Council.

New England Farm Workers' Council received $30,000 in the fall and recently another $30,000 for heating assistance. According to John Keeney of New England Farm Workers' Council, which manages the Federal Fuel Assistance program, they will be able to help about 170 families because of the grants.


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Our Father's House and Winchendon CAC also received money to purchase refrigerators and freezers so they can store food. The Spanish American Center received an additional $2,500 grant to be used at the Worcester County Food Bank, and $5,000 was given to United Way Community Builders, which will package approximately 20,000 prepared meals.

Enterprise Bank and Trust and Fidelity Bank, along with several individuals, donated to the fund.

Contributions may be made to the fund by calling 978-345-1577, going online at www.uwncm.org, or mailing to United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Attn: Supplemental Basic Needs Fund, 285 John Fitch Hwy, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

Residents who need to know where to go for emergency assistance may call 2-1-1, which is a free call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or visit www.uwncm.org to access their website. 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.