At a time of the year when raising funds for a food program is traditionally difficult, Brown County residents stepped forward with thousands of dollars in gifts last spring in response to the Feinstein Foundation challenge.

“The community’s response speaks volumes about how they want to stop hunger,” executive director Angelia Bostick said. “We feel good about that. It certainly helps us during this time of higher need and increased costs.”

But continued support is required, Bostick said, because of the ongoing demands on the interdenominational agency, which not only provides need-based assistance for groceries but also clothing and financial assistance for utilities.

Good Samaritan embarked on a concentrated fund-raiser in March and April in response to the Rhode Island-based Feinstein Foundation challenge, which offered a share of $1 million to food pantries throughout the world. The awards are based on the success of local fund-raisers.

Good Samaritan was one of 1,707 organizations that participated this year, and it found out this week that it ranked 399 in fund-raising. That puts it in the top 24 percent of those agencies, which are located as far away as Israel.

“This high ranking is only because of the great support of the people in Brown County,” Good Samaritan information manager Gary Baker said. “The staff at Good Samaritan is very appreciative of all the individuals, churches, clubs and businesses that support us.”

The amount of the Feinstein Foundation award is always unknown, because the $1 million pool is divided among participating organizations.

“Because so many food pantries participated this year and many of them raised several hundreds of thousands of dollars, our grant was not a large as we hoped,” Baker added. “But the two-month challenge together with the grant money received are a big boost for Good Samaritan’s food pantry. As food and gasoline prices soar, more people are seeking help with food.”

Baker said the Feinstein Foundation intends the challenge to be an incentive for local food pantries to undertake fund-raising campaigns, and it works.

“It helped raise awareness about hunger and the needs that exist in our community,” Bostick said. “It gets the community actively involved in helping address the need.”

Bostick said 47 agencies in Texas participated in the Feinstein challenge. Most of the food pantries that raised more money than Good Samaritan are located in large metropolitan areas, although cities like Azle, Stafford and Tyler topped Brownwood.

The combined total of contributions including the grant was approximately $62,500, Baker said.

Information about the Feinstein challenge is posted on its Web site, www.feinsteinfoundation.org.

“This certainly helps, because we’re not sitting on easy street by any means,” Bostick said. “We’re spending $6,000 to $7,000 a month on food alone, and the need is continuing to grow.”

The total amount of donations submitted to the Feinstein Foundation for consideration of its grant was boosted by a number of food drives by schools, church groups and civic organizations, Bostick added. The challenge allowed agencies to count each donated food item as a $1 contribution.

Bostick noted that while contributions for the food pantry are always needed, ongoing support for the agency’s operations as well as its other programs is also needed.