A food pantry will receive the largest share of grant money divvied out by the Murrieta City Council for the coming fiscal year.
Council members voted 4-1 Tuesday, with Councilwoman Kelly Bennett dissenting, to allot $20,000 of $42,000 in community development block grants to St. Martha's Community Food Pantry. The city issues the grants yearly through the Riverside County HUD program, which is funded by the federal government.
"From my perspective the survival need is the greatest," said Councilman Rick Gibbs. "Clearly the most bang for the buck is feeding people. With their needs going up, with $42,000, give St. Martha's $20,000..."
Mariann Schiewe, coordinator for St. Martha's Community Food Pantry's Family Outreach of the Valley program, said there are 6,525 family members being served, an increase from last year.
"Every month we are seeing 49 new families," Schiewe said.
They are not just providing food, but diapers, hygiene items, vitamins and other necessities, she said.
"We can only do this with your help, the help of grocery stores, scouts and the community. There is no reason for a person or their family in this city to go hungry," Schiewe said.
The remaining $22,000 in grants will go to four organizations out of eight total applicants.
Safe Alternatives for Everyone, or SAFE, will receive $7,000 for fiscal year 2012-2013. The organization assists victims of domestic violence Southwest Riverside County.
Melissa Donaldson of SAFE said it is the last surviving organization in Southwest Riverside County that serves domestic violence victims.
"We are really carrying the load of what is going on," Donaldson said. "Domestic violence is not just an issue for the people involved, it is a public safety issue."
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest County will receive $5,000. The money will be used to provide scholarships for before and after school transportation to and from the Murrieta clubhouse for underprivileged children.
Maryann Edwards, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest County, said 12,000 youth were served in 2010 in Southwest Riverside County. The Murrieta clubhouse is the busiest of four, she said.
"While the grant requests money for only 40 of those children, we serve close to 200 a day [at the Murrieta clubhouse]," Edwards said.
The Boys & Girls Club had requested $10,000. Last year, though they applied they did not receive a grant.
"Every penny counts. We make the best use of our funds. Our administration costs are less than 6 percent. Everything else goes to the kids."
The Assistance League of Temecula Valley will receive $5,000 to go toward Operation School Bell, which provides $100 in school shopping each year to underprivileged children.
Michelle's Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, which screens women for breast cancer, helps them find treatment and offers counseling, will receive $5,000.
Councilwoman Bennett argued that Michelle's Place should get more funding, as it provides access to health care for women who can't afford it, she said.
For the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2012, Michelle's Place was given $10,000. Assistance League received $10,000, SAFE received $10,000 and St. Martha's received $25,000.
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Riverside County (CASA), which applied for $17,000 for the coming fiscal year, received nothing. The organization trains volunteers to act as foster care liaisons.
But according to the grant application turned in by CASA, council members said the organization only declared serving six cases in Murrieta in the current fiscal year, and projected to serve 11 in 2012-2013. They leaned toward organizations who served larger portions of the community.
"I know having an advocate means a lot, and they need to have that," said Councilman Alan Long. "For me it is 'you have to eat, you have to be safe' and I have allocated my funding accordingly."
Newly-appointed Mayor Doug McAllister said deciding who will get the funds is never an easy decision to make.
"We would love to use our hearts on this but we have to use our heads," McAllister said.