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Suffolk soup kitchens, shelters to get back $573,000

A month after Suffolk charities learned they'd lost about $1 million in federal funds, about two-thirds of the money was restored Tuesday, causing food pantries, soup kitchens and housing programs to rejoice.

By the end of April, about $573,000 in Emergency Food and Shelter Program money could flow to charities such as The Ministries, which runs a food pantry in Coram.

"That's wonderful!" exclaimed Ann Moran-Smith, The Ministries executive director, of the news. "We're running out of a lot of items. We don't have any meat."

Suffolk charities received almost $1.4 million last year but about $450,000 was not renewed for this year because it was one-time federal stimulus money. The rest, about $918,000, was wiped out when the quasi-public national board that determines the funding decided Suffolk no longer qualified.

The board is run by several national charities under guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Officials said Suffolk didn't qualify because its 7.4 percent unemployment was too low and none of its incorporated villages had enough jobless residents. Nassau, which had lower overall unemployment, got $695,000 in funding because the Village of Hempstead has high unemployment.

The restoration of some of the funding was not unexpected because the federal government sets aside millions each year for counties that initially get no funding. And this year, New York State got more "set-aside" money than usual, about $1 million, said Shelly Nortz, the state committee chairwoman.

More than 57 percent went to Suffolk, she said.. "It goes a long way . . . toward making sure we can feed people who are in need," said Joe Barry, the INN's director of fundraising.

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