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Bedford, Tri-County to open food bank

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

Bedford City Commission and the Tri-County Community Action Agency plan to work together to offer a food pantry at Morgan Community Center.

Pam Craig, director/coordinator of TCCAA, told commissioners at the Monday night meeting that the food pantry would be operated in conjunction with the Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville.

Using Tri-County’s nonprofit status, the city can order monthly deliveries of nonperishable foods to the pantry for distribution to people who qualify, based on income. The food bank would be similar to one the agency operates at the Trimble County Senior Center, but on a larger scale. Tri-County would continue to operate its pantry at the senior center, which is convenient to Milton residents and others from the northern part of the county.

“But the greater need is right here in this city,” she told the commission. The community center “is accessible; so many people here walk. I feel it would be a really good thing to have a pantry here for our clients. … We would love to do this for Milton, too.”

The pantry would be open during the center’s business hours, and families and individuals signed up to receive food would only be allowed to access the pantry once a month.

Rita Davis, who manages the community center, said she would coordinate the distribution of food at the new pantry. She said she favors the program because it would complement the free bread program already offered at the center every Thursday.

Through that program, the center receives a delivery of breads, doughnuts, pastries and other food items that are still good, but have passed their expiration dates. The items are donated area grocery stores, and there are no restrictions on who can come in and take advantage of the program.

Unlike the bread program, coordinators of the food pantry program can order as much or as little food as is needed each month. Craig said the agreement with Dare to Care requires that the site order something every month, “but there is no minimum or maximum.”

Additionally, the pantry can also offer non-food items, such as household cleaning supplies, and toiletries and other personal-care products.

Bedford Mayor Russell Clifton said he sees a need for the pantry. “In today’s economy, there’s a tremendous amount of people in trouble,” he said. However, he expressed concern that the additional responsibility of running the pantry could overextend Davis. Davis recently took over supervision of the Bedford Cemetery, in addition to her work at the community center, following the resignation of Assistant City Clerk Cindy Liter.

The commission voted in September not to fill the vacancy, and instead split the duties of the position between City Clerk Joyce Teague and Davis – giving each a $2-per-hour raise.

“We would never put something on Rita she can’t handle,” Craig promised, adding that the city can drop the program at any time. “She has a lot of her own volunteers, and we have volunteers. And there’s no long-term commitment. We’re just asking you to try it and see.”

“I say we try it for awhile and see how it works,” said Commissioner Glenford Alexander.

“I’m fine with that,” Clifton replied.

“Maybe we can work problems out as we go along,” added Commissioner Harold Greene.

The commission voted unanimously to go ahead with the program.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Clifton reiterated that he is not against establishing the food bank program in Bedford. “It’s not that I don’t want to help people. I just have to look out for my employees.”

After the vote, Craig said she hopes to get the program up and running as soon as possible, and said the food pantry could be open in the next couple of weeks.

For more information about the food pantry program, the bread program or to inquire about volunteering at the center, call Davis at (502) 255-4879.