Donations are down for Morgan County’s food bank
Financial donations from the public for Morgan County InterFaith Emergency Care (MCIEC) have fallen $11,000 from the previous year, said treasurer and program co-coordinator Bill Locke. Public donations are non-Ministerial Association gifts from individuals, organizations and businesses.
Locke has been with the food bank and financial assistance program for 25 years. It was previously known as the Morgan County Emergency Assistance Team (McEAT, Inc.) He shares program coordination duties with board member Rita Gray.
Expenditures for the organization were $15,000 over last year’s contributions, but they started 2013 with $24,000 in the bank, Locke said. They have a lot of faithful contributors and hope to continue their current level of assistance to families.
They spent some $69,000 on various programs in 2012 and directly impacted 2,024 people in 647 families. Some were repeats and were served two to five times, Locke said. It’s not unusual to serve 10 new families in a month.
While the numbers of people seeking help financially stayed mostly the same, the number of residents coming to the food pantry jumped 15% and absorbed 36% of their resources, he said.
This January they saw more clients than ever, serving 71 families with 219 people. Some 12 families that month were new families they’d never seen before. This month there hasn’t been as many clients with only three new families served.
The MCIEC is the umbrella organization that includes the Regional Resource Connection, Catholic Charities and the Morgan County Clergy Association, along with McEAT.
McEAT, Inc. is the financial arm of the umbrella organization and the name to which all check donations should be made. It is the only entity that handles money, Locke said.
At least 12 local churches are involved under the Morgan County Clergy Association, he said. The Presbytery of Shenandoah also gives financial donations.
Some churches take a special Sunday offering for the program while other churches have them in their budget and make a regular financial contribution, Locke said. There are also monetary donations from community members, summer residents and from out of state as well as food donations from local food drives and individuals.
All funding comes from the churches, parishioners and individual donors. They receive no government funds or United Way monies and don’t solicit for funding.
“We trust in our God,” he said.
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church donates the space for their office and food pantry and provides their electric, heat and telephone. Without that, the organization would take a real hit to cover the costs of space and utilities, he said. At least half of their food pantry volunteers come from St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Serves county residents
The food pantry and financial assistance program only serves Morgan County residents and clients are required to prove residency, Locke said. They check income levels and number of household members before determining what assistance levels clients can receive, Locke said.
The organization also tracks the number of times families and individuals have requested help for food or financial assistance with utilities, impending eviction, prescription medications or other emergencies.
Families are permitted to receive emergency food four times within a period of 12 months, Locke said. Financial assistance with other emergencies is limited to once in 12 months. The financial assistance amount is based on the client’s assets, liabilities and their ability to pay some part of the expense.
They also coordinate with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and other agencies to help people in their emergency.
Cash vs. food donations
Financial donations are preferred so they can buy whatever food items they need at the moment in the pantry, since they can get some discounts on purchases, Locke said. Donations of non-perishable food items that they stock are also welcomed.
If anyone wants to do a food drive or to donate food, contact the food pantry for a list of food and household supplies they use. Also check that expiration dates haven’t passed on food donations.
Food and household supplies they provide to families include rice, flour, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, canned soups, tuna and vegetables, beans, cereal, peanut butter, eggs, fruit, macaroni and cheese, saltine crackers, toilet paper, toothpaste and soap.
For more information about the food pantry and other available assistance, call 304-258-2487. If interested in becoming a volunteer, call Locke at 304-258-3327 or Gray at 304-258-2053.