Community food bank still needs a home

October 04, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Jolene Bailey says the food bank that she and four of her church members run needs space.

It's a curious position. There are people to feed, plenty of food, but not enough room to store all of the things the food bank wants to give away.

Danville City Commissioners have promised to help her; but just how they plan to do so is unclear.

First, they promised to try for a federal grant, and then a state grant.

Bailey, who helped found the food bank three years ago, was at the commissioners' meeting a week ago to ask them what had happened since Aug. 22, the day Commissioners Chester Kavanaugh and Ryan Owens and Mayor John W.D. Bowling voted to help the group apply for grants.

The city had offered to apply for a federal Community Development Block Grant and asked Bailey to get a price on a piece of property and an estimate for a metal building. She found a piece of property near the church that she pastors, which is also the food bank's current location, and she got an estimate on a metal building.


No one from the city told her, though, that the commissioners had apparently changed their minds, and that the city wasn't going to apply for a CDBG grant for the food bank, but rather for the Junction City sewerage project.

Bailey insists that although she is pastor of Faith Temple, and the food bank is in the church basement, that it is not affiliated with the church. The women took over the food bank from Bluegrass Community Action Agency, a government organization that helps people pay their utility bills.

The church basement has become cramped, and the food bank has begun to take on other rooms of the church.

Bailey said she believed that the city was going to help her.

Kavanaugh, Owens and Bowling first thought the city could apply for federal grants to pay for both the sewerage project and the food bank. "When I voted on it, I didn't know the technicalities on that grant," Bowling told Bailey in the meeting.

The commissioners' alternative was to apply for a Renaissance grant, state money that is used to help improve downtowns in Kentucky.

No Renaissance money until state passes budget

But the state hasn't passed a budget, and until it does, there won't be any Renaissance money, according to Shawn Dyer, executive director of the Governor's Office for Local Development, the state agency that administers the grants.

On top of that, Dyer said, there will be new guidelines for the grants, and they haven't been announced.

Even if the food bank qualified and there was money in the state program, there are still questions about whether the city could apply for funding for the food bank.

To be awarded Renaissance money, the city has to work with the Main Street program, run by the Heart of Danville, and the Heart's executive director, Julie Wagner, hasn't been asked to help the city apply.

Kavanaugh said he also wants to apply for Renaissance money for the Community Arts Center. However, like the federal grant, the city is only allowed to apply for one project at a time. None of the commissioners have made it clear whether they'll support a grant application for the food bank or the arts center.

Kavanaugh and Bowling said last week that they are committed to trying to help Bailey. Bowling told her to go find another piece of property, one in the downtown district.

Commissioner Jamey Gay wonders if Bailey's food bank is a duplication of what The Salvation Army does in Danville. He suggested that the two food banks work together.

Gay even has a catch-phrase for it, "We want collaboration not duplication."

Bailey says her group has tried to work with The Salvation Army before but wasn't successful. She said that people who come to her for help say that The Salvation Army is out of food.

Salvation Army Capt. Zachary Bell said that he would be willing to work with anyone, but that he has never spoken with Bailey. He said The Salvation Army provides hot and cold meals to people who need them. Its food bank does have shortages but still gives bread daily and groceries weekly as long as a person's needs exists.

Bailey is still searching for a home for her food bank. She has vowed to keep working until her group finds a place to keep the food to feed the hungry.

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