Housing Complex

City Saves Free Grocery Program For Seniors

UPDATE, Wednesday, 2:19 p.m. – The Urban League will administer the program for the next three months, and it will transition to the Capital Area Food Bank in January.

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Looks like old folks need not have fretted too much about their monthly bag of groceries, courtesy of the D.C. and federal governments. Mayor Vince Gray's office told Councilmember Jim Graham's staff this morning—several hours after I wrote about it—that transitional funding has been identified to maintain the program until it can be handed over from the Greater Washington Urban League to another provider, with no break or decrease in the number of seniors served.

To add some additional details: The District's funding for the program was a grant with renewal options, not a budget line item, which may explain how it flew under the advocacy community's radar during budget season.

"The funding was provided as a multi-year grant; one-year with an option for annual renewal up to 4 years," writes Department of Health spokeswoman Mahlori Isaacs. "However, all subgrants issued by DOH are subject to funding availability. GWUL was advised last year that the previous funding used to partially fund their grant would not be available in FY 2012 and that only USDA funding would be available. Consequently, they would have to either reduce administrative costs to operate the program or initiate fund raising to make up the gap. That did not occur."

Anyway, read Kathryn Baer for more.

  • Cap City Records Panhandler

    Nice reporting, Ms. Lydia.

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  • @CCCAPrez

    At least Gray is responsive. Too bad elected have to be shamed before they take action. Why can't they all just do the right and logical thing to begin with?

  • http://povertyandpolicy.wordpress.com Kathryn Baer

    Thanks for the details on the funding, especially for the "explanation" you managed to get from DOH. Quotes here because, to my mind, it doesn't explain why DOH did nothing to ensure that the programs would continue to operate.

    If funds were needed, why didn't the department let higher up decision-makers know? If it thought that GWUL was spending too much on administration, why didn't it find another grantee? That apparently is what it intends to do now, but it could have laid the groundwork for a smooth transition.

    Bottom line is that the programs are federally-funded, not voluntary initiatives some nonprofit decided to undertake. DOH is responsible for administering them, directly or by issuing a grant or contract to another entity.

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