Lincoln food program may shut down

June 03, 2004

STANFORD - A Lincoln County program that helps feed hundreds of families each month is in danger of closing and needs a civic group to step up and keep it running, according to a news release.

If shut down by July 1 as projected, the Lincoln County United Human Services Council would no longer give 40-pound boxes of food to the 288 families enrolled in its Supplemental Commodity Food Program.

The United Human Services Council, comprised of 28 county agencies, began to feed families three years ago. It provides 40-pound boxes of food to seniors and women with infants and children through 5 years old.

Starting with 70 families, the program grew to 408 families. Because of budget cuts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program now serves 288 families food at the third week of each month, when Social Security checks and food stamps run low.


Because of numerous budget cuts within each agency, the news release says, the council is no longer able to continue feeding people.

Health department had been doing the paperwork

Lincoln County Health Department took on the paperwork for the program, but budget cuts have left the agency unable to continue. As a result, a church, civic group or other agency is needed to take over the food program beginning in July.

Tracy Weiskircher, partnership coordinator with Lincoln County Early Childhood, said the group was still willing to pitch in, but none of the various agencies involved can afford to devote an employee to tackle the paperwork.

Someone has to verify incomes of those who receive food every month. It is a requirement of the USDA to receive commodity food, those plain-labeled cans of meat, vegetables, juice and blocks of processed cheese.

Even before the food pantry opens, people start to line up. Most are seniors.

In a building at the ball fields in Harmon Heights, volunteers, mostly women, create an assembly line.

"It feels like working in a grocery store," Weiskircher said.

They make 40-pound boxes of peanut butter, macaroni, canned foods, dried fruit and juice. Others, sometimes inmates or Fort Logan High School students, will load the boxes into cars.

"It's almost like a drive-through service," Weiskircher said. "The people are eager to come ... they look forward to coming."

Agency would need a truck, and a building

The volunteering agency would need a box truck to pick up the food at God's Pantry in Lexington and a building to house the food, sort it and pack it into individual boxes for families to pick up.

Any agency or group that is willing to take over the program may contact Diane Miller at the health department, (606) 365-3106; Andrea Jeffries at Helping Hands, (606) 346-2550, Linda Grigson at senior citizens, 365-9016; Karen Hignite at Building Bridges, 365-3989; Diana Messer at Family Connections, 355-2129, Mindy Cash or Susan Miller at the county Youth Service Center, 365-2671; or Tracy Weiskircher at Early Childhood, 365-9371.

The council meets at 9 a.m. every third Thursday of the month at the Lincoln County Senior Citizens Center.

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