Angie Berzonski

Angie Berzonski

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies announced $300,000 in grant funding on Tuesday.

“For the fall 2022 grant round, with the price of everyday items on the rise and creating a hardship for so many, our distribution committee prioritized requests that addressed basic human needs,”  said CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski.

Cambria County saw $87,000 in funding, including $7,500 for the Cambria County Backpack Project.

Kristen Villarrial, Cambria County Backpack Project director, said that the grant will help the program – which is now in 10 school districts – serve 550 children.

She added that the addition of Portage Area School District, Penn Cambria School District and Northern Cambria School District at the beginning of the school year brought about 50 new children per school district.

“That will extend the backpack project geographically and financially because with those new districts, it costs more to feed those children," she said. "But there’s definitely a need there, especially in those more rural areas and with these times of, you know, economic uncertainty, families are having to choose between paying rent and buying groceries. We see that a lot. So we’re committed to serving all the children in Cambria County who suffered from chronic hunger."

Villarrial added that the program has seen costs rise from about $5.44 per a backpack of six meals per child for a weekend, which was budgeted at the beginning of the year to about a dollar more.

A full list of the grant awards can be found at www.cfalleghenies.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Fall-2022-Grants-by-County.pdf.

Katie Smolen is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @KSmolen1230.

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