WARREN - A backpack program designed to help 4th-grade students have daily meals on weekends during the school year is asking the city to contribute $15,000 through its federally subsidized Community Block Grant allocations.
''There are some kids who their teachers and other school officials know will have very little to eat between the time they leave the school Friday afternoons and when they return to school on Monday,'' Michael Iberis, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley, said. ''We are providing them with milk, fruit cups, micro-wavable foods and other food items.''
Second Harvest and Christ Episcopal Church provide weekend food packages for students at Jefferson and Willard K-8 Schools in Warren. Each school receives 75 bags of food each weekend.
The food program requested $15,000 for the program.
Second Harvest has requested funding assistance from Community Development in five previous years. Last year, it received $9,000.
It is one of 25 programs that serve low- to moderate-income residents asking for money through the annual Community Development Block Grant program. It is expected that 20 of the 25 programs that requested funds will receive them.
Most will receive less than they requested.
Warren Community Development Director Michael Keys said the 25 programs asked for $517,345 worth of funding.
''We expect to receive about $1 million in community block grant funds from the federal government,'' Keys said. ''We are authorized to provide up to 15 percent, in this case $150,000, of the block grants to non-profit organizations that provide services to low to moderate income residents.''
Keys said Warren has been providing the 15 percent to the organizations.
Programs seeking funding sent applications to the community development department, explaining what their programs are and why they should receive the CDBG funding. Last week, the organizations made formal presentations before a CDBG committee comprised of three members of Warren City Council, their appointees, and five representatives of the mayor's office.
The committee is expected to send their recommendations to city council for approval.
The city must turn in its final recommendations to the federal government by Nov. 1.
Kathy LaMarco, director of the Warren Supporting Parents to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) program, which works with the parents of 4-year-olds entering Jefferson K-8
''We've been operating for about six years,'' LaMarco said. ''We encourage kindergarten readiness and encourage parents to be the child's learning advocate. We provide 12 lessons and provide a partner that goes into the home once a month to work with the parents.''
LaMarco said the need for this type of program is significant.
''There are kids that are already behind when they enter kindergarten,'' LaMarco said. ''We are hoping this will help to bridge the gap.''
SPARK requested $7,750 from CDBG. It provides help for about 33 students per year.
LaMarco would like to expand the program into neighboring communities.
Martha Conyer, founder and director of services with Free Indeed Prison Ministries, works with prisoners returning to the community.
The organization requested $24,462 to purchase 10 computers, software, a projector and other equipment needed to do skill training, including video production, editing and small engine repairs.
''We are doing a fresh start program,'' Conyer said. ''It is difficult for people who are coming out of prison with felony records to get jobs, so we are attempting to give them skills to become self employed.''
This is the second time the prison ministries applied for funding from Community Development.
''We are working with an average of 75 ex-offenders a year that are working to reenter into the community,'' Conyer said. ''Providing the skills for them to start their own businesses or to get jobs saves the state and the city money. Housing an offender cost about $40,000 a year.''