Since our very first year of operation, ONT has sourced food through state-funded resources, like the Department of Education meals programs in the 1990’s and later through state and federal funded food stocks offered at regional food banks. Today, approximately 20% of the food we provide comes through the MEFAP line item of the state budget and the TEFAP line item in the federal budget.
Did you know that each year, ONT serves more than 100 military veterans and their families? We can’t do that alone. For ten years, ONT has contracted with the Department of Veterans Services to provide emergency assistance to local veterans. What started as sporadic aid in times of crisis has become ongoing assistance to help our military families and aging veterans make ends meet. Thankfully, our State Representative Jim Kelcourse, with support from our State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, has championed our work and doubled our funding to keep pace with the growing need.
In 2016, ONT is excited about our newest partnership, working with the City of Amesbury and Town of Merrimac under the Community Development Block Grant to help serve low- and moderate-income residents. Last year, ONT served 1 out of every 10 residents of Amesbury and 1 out of every 30 Merrimac residents. Each year, we see hundreds of new families and individuals from these communities. CDBG money will be used to curb the cost the growing number of people turning to ONT for food assistance.
Partnerships with state and local government doesn’t just bring funding, they are also effective tools to help us reach people in need. ONT has been partnering with the Councils on Aging and Housing Authorities in Amesbury and Merrimac for nearly 10 years. We’ve worked together to identify local residents, especially seniors and people with disabilities who are struggling without enough food. Through creativity and collaboration, we’ve been providing on-site mobile pantries at Amesbury’s Heritage Towers and Powow Villa for nearly 10 years and home delivery services to residents who are homebound since 2010. In Merrimac, we now fully support the food inventory for the Council on Aging’s pantry and delivery program, while the COA provides space for our mobile distribution to residents of Merrimac.
As we continue to leverage the new Jardis-Taylor Center to increase our capacity, we look to developing similar relationships and creative partnerships with public departments across our service region to reach our neighbors who have yet to find their way to our doors.