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Study Informs Federal Grants to Address U.S. Fuel Poverty

October 17, 2022
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UMass students stand in front of newly stacked crates of firewood at the Petersham Wood Bank

HF Director of Outreach & Education, Clarisse Hart, has co-authored a new study, Food, Medicine, or Heat? How Firewood Banks Leverage Natural Resources to Support Fuel Poor Households that will directly inform the distrubition of $8 mill in federal grants to combat heating fuel poverty in the US.

Until Hart began her research in 2016, grass-roots community wood banks – akin to food banks, but offering firewood – had been operating throughout the US, but practitioners were not connected to each other, and no research was available on how and where they operated, who they served, the challenges they encountered, and the kinds of resources that could help them improve their services to communities.

Hart and study collaborators from the University of Massachusetts, University of Wisconsin, and Duke University published the firewood bank study this summer, while simultaneously partnering up with leaders from the University of Maine, UMass Family Forest Research Center, Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, and the Alliance for Green Heat to inform the USDA's new grant process for firewood bank support.

Hart is part of a core advisory group organizing a national wood bank summit and a national survey of wood bank operators, and providing support for decision-making about how grants can best serve communities, including Indigenous tribes. More information about the USDA grant, administered through the Alliance for Green Heat, can be found at Applications opened on October 15, 2022, and are received on a rolling basis.

Photo: Student volunteers from the University of Massachusetts stand in front of stacked wood at the Wood Bank in Petersham, Mass. Photo by Melissa LeVangie.

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