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Miami County receives preparedness funds

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program approved about $6,500 for Miami County’s emergency preparedness efforts.

The federally-funded initiative helps supplement emergency food and shelter programs in communities with hungry and homeless populations – of which Miami County has both.

“(Local agencies) do not have enough funds to meet the needs of the community,” said Debi Wallick, the executive director at Miami County of United Way.

Miami County has participated in the program for about 15 years, and created a local board to determine how the funds will be distributed among local agencies.

Food scarcity is a primary need. Nearly 25 percent of children live in poverty in Miami County, according to the Indiana Youth Institute, and children who experience food scarcity could be even higher – as more than 50 percent of the students at Peru Community Schools are eligible to receive free or reduced meals, according to Terry Fuller, Food Service Director at Peru Community Schools.

Housing help is also offered. Last year, the board assisted about 50 families with utility bills.

That board consists of members from the American Red Cross, Jewish Community, Miami County Helping Hands, Miami Nation of Indians, Peru Ministerial Association, Peru Housing Authority, Peru Township Trustee, St. Vincent De Paul, The Salvation Army and United Way of Miami County.

“We as a committee can decide how we want to use those funds, such as on rent, utilities or food,” Wallick said.

As part of the program requirements, a homeless or formerly homeless individual must also serve on the local board.

Any agencies or nonprofits interested in applying for the emergency funds must contact Debi Wallick of United Way of Miami County, which is located at 13 East Main St. Her telephone number is 765-473-2420.

Agencies may also contact Jerri Bunker of Peru Township, which is located at 352 Washington Ave.

The deadline for applications to be received is June 20, 2018.

The board will meet on June 21 at the Community Resource Building from noon to 1 p.m. to make a decision.