FITCHBURG -- Due to lingering cold weather, a fresh round of grants for food and heating assistance was announced jointly by the United Way of North Central Massachusetts and the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts.

"Because we are coming off such a long and cold winter, many families continue to struggle to pay for basic needs such as food and utilities," said Phil Grzewinski, who serves as president of both the United Way of North Central Massachusetts and Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. "We know these 16 grants provided important relief for families."

Two grants totaling $40,000 from United Way and the Community Foundation allowed the following agencies to purchase food that was distributed to local families: Battered Women's Resources, Leominster; Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Fitchburg; Montachusett Veterans Outreach, Gardner; Fitchburg/Leominster CAC Food Pantry; Gardner CAC; Our Father's House, Fitchburg; Salvation Army, Fitchburg, Catholic Charities, Fitchburg; Spanish American Center, Leominster; Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, Devens; GVNA Healthcare Community Service Pantry, Gardner; Townsend Ecumenical Food Pantry; Franklin County Meals Program; Orange Food Pantry; Salvation Army, Athol; Wheat Community Services, Clinton; and Winchendon Community Action Council.

New England Farm Workers Council, which administers the federal fuels funds for the region, received $30,000 from United Way for fuel assistance. "We were able to help almost 100 families thanks to the generosity of our donors," said Kathy Heintz, director of community impact for United Way of North Central Massachusetts.

Contributions may be made to the fund by calling 978-345-1577, going online at uwncm.org, or mailing to United Way of North Central Massachusetts, Attn: Supplemental Basic Needs Fund, 649 John Fitch Hwy, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

Residents who need to know where to go for emergency assistance can call 2-1-1, which is a free call, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, or visit 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.