REGION — The United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties has received a $30,000 two-year grant from the Fund for Shared Insight’s Listen for Good initiative dedicated to helping non-profits develop and implement more effective tools for listening to the people they serve.

The United Way was nominated for this competitive, nation-wide grant by the Moses Taylor Foundation which will be providing $15,000 in matching funds.

The United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties is one of 47 nonprofits, including five in Pennsylvania and one of two United Ways across the country to receive this $45,000 in grants during the current funding cycle.

Participating funders in the Fund for Shared Insight’s Listen for Good initiative include such globally renowned philanthropic organizations as the Ford Foundation; Hewlett Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to the Moses Taylor Foundation for nominating us to receive this prestigious grant,” noted Gary Drapek, president and CEO of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.

“We’re excited to be part of the Fund for Shared Insight’s Listen for Good program to help us build upon our capacity to truly listen to those we seek to help and to better respond to their needs,” he added.

Through this grant, the United Way will partner with students from Marywood University to study the availability and effectiveness of food distribution and the level of food insecurity experienced by those who utilize the various services of 10 organizations who receive state funds to provide food for people in need.

The United Way is the local administrator for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and chairs a local board which awards in excess of $330,000 in state funds to those ten organizations providing food assistance for families and individuals.

This study will survey the clients of those 10 SFPP organizations which include: Bread Basket of NEPA; Catherine McAuley Center; Catholic Social Services; Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO); Friends of the Poor; Meals on Wheels; St. Francis of Assisi Kitchen; The Salvation Army; United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA and Womens' Resource Center. Collectively, these organizations serve over 11,000 households per year and more than 50 percent of the people receiving food are children.

“One of the best ways to ensure people in our community not only have enough to eat but also have access to healthy foods is to understand the multi-faceted challenges they are facing,” said Drapek.

“By listening to their needs and responding to their feedback, we’ll close the loop and strengthen our collective efforts to make sure no one in our community goes hungry.”