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Citizens Bank donates $100,000 to Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston as part of Mayor’s Food and Fuel Campaign

Funding will support shelters and emergency food programs

BOSTON   (October 30, 2009) – The Citizens Bank Foundation today announced a $100,000 commitment to the Food and Fuel Initiative as part of its support of this multi-year program aimed at helping Boston’s low-income residents cope with food and fuel costs during the winter months.

The initiative was launched last year in partnership with the Black Ministerial Alliance, and as supplement to Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Food and Fuel Campaign, to support shelters and emergency food programs that provide heating and food assistance to local residents in need. Last year’s initiative was funded by a $100,000 grant, bringing the two-year total to $200,000 from the Citizens Bank Foundation.

“The winter is especially hard for low-income people who have to stretch their budgets to cover heating expenses during the cold months, and the tough economy makes affording basic needs even more difficult,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “We are grateful to the Black Ministerial Alliance and Citizens Bank for being caring community partners by supporting our Food and Fuel Campaign. Their help will provide assistance to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents this winter.”

Last year, Mayor Menino launched the city’s Food and Fuel Campaign to raise awareness and resources to assist community programs during the winter months when individuals and families wrestle with heating their homes and putting food on the table.

Citizens Bank and the BMA responded to Mayor Menino’s appeal to the community and assisted more than 6,000 individuals and families last winter, including food grants to 16 food pantries that serve more than 5,000 people. It also provided grants for food and fuel to 10 homeless shelters serving more than 600 individuals and five community organizations received grants to help more than 40 families pay their heating bills.

In addition, seven dinners were held at local churches during the winter months enabling residents to meet their neighbors, enjoy a free meal and learn about additional food and fuel assistance programs. More than 500 residents attended these dinners and more than 400 free bags of groceries where distributed to help supplement their basic food budget.

“Citizens is proud to partner with our friends at the Black Ministerial Alliance to support a program that complements Mayor Menino’s Food and Fuel Campaign,” said Stephen R. Woods, President, Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. “As a company committed to supporting the communities where our customers and colleagues live and work, we are honored to know that our small role in this program will mean that an elderly person, a parent or an individual will not have to make the choice between heating his or her home – or eating a meal this winter.”
With this year’s $100,000 grant from the Citizens Bank Foundation, the BMA will administer grants ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 to faith-based and community-based organizations and homeless shelters. It estimates that the donation will feed more than 5,000 people; assist more than 40 individuals and families who are struggling to pay their heating bills; and provide much-needed assistance to Boston homeless shelters, which are also expected to struggle with heating costs.

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the unemployment rate in the state increased to 9.3 percent in September and jobs are down 9,200. The Greater Boston Food Bank reported an 11 percent increase in the number of clients being served by its 600-member hunger-relief agencies.

“Our neighbors need our help now more than ever as they struggle with unemployment, underemployment and the recession,” said Bishop Gideon A. Thompson, BMA Board President, and Founder and Senior Pastor of the Jubilee Christian Church. “We commend Mayor Menino for engaging the community in supporting the city’s Food and Fuel Campaign and Citizens Bank for providing the funding that will put food on tables and heat in homes the cold months ahead.” 

The donation also will support a Community Dinner program. Several dinners will be held during the winter months at local churches, giving residents an opportunity to meet their neighbors and enjoy a free meal. In addition, each will receive a free bag of groceries to help supplement basic food budgets.

Joining Woods and Mayor Menino at today’s announcement, held at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, were a number of community leaders, including Rev. David Wright, Executive Director, BMA, Pastor Arlene Hall, BMA Board Member and Founder and Senior Pastor of Deliverance Temple Church of God and Rev. Herman Hamilton, President, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and Pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church. Also in attendance were Amelia Roche of Bethel Tabernacle Pentecostal Church and Rev. June Cooper of City Mission Society.

About the Citizens Bank Foundation

Citizens Bank Foundation is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Bank. The foundation’s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs.

About BMA

The Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, established in the early 1960s, is an alliance of over 80 faith-based and community-based organizations with a 40-year history of serving the Black community in Boston. The BMA’s mission is to provide spiritual nurture for clergy, and advocacy and program services for the larger Black community. As part of its mission, the BMA demonstrates its ability to create positive change in the Boston area.