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Food giveaways popular in county
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Second Harvest Food Bank has deemed Warren County a county with one-fifth of its residents living at or below the poverty level. According to Second Harvest developmental representative Ben Webster, 8,265 people are living under the official poverty line.
The official governmental poverty level is based on income and number living in the household. Poverty is currently defined by income as:
• family of four: income less than $27,000 per year;
• family of two: income less than $18,000 per year;
• single person: income less than $13,000 per year.
The elderly, disabled and children under 6 score additional points in this system.
Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency local director Kim Luton said her agency is seeing many people who are not able to buy groceries, or pay their utility bills as they once could.
“Some of these people are in their 50s and 60s and have medical issues. They are drained,” said Luton. “They are just trying to keep a roof over their head and food in their stomach. They are trying to survive in today’s economy. Some have lost their homes. We are transporting people who don’t have a dime to spare to get chemo for their cancer.”
Second Harvest has partnered with various donors to put food in the hands of Warren County residents.
Helping Hands Ministries has held mobile food drives. So has the McMinnville-Warren County Senior Center, which provided food to approximately 150 citizens over age 60.
Kids of the Community recently distributed 5,800 pounds of frozen chicken strips to school-aged children in the county. Second Harvest partnered with Kids of the Community at the giveaway which was held at West Elementary. West has the highest percentage, 85 percent, of students in the county on free or reduced lunch.
UCHRA distributes commodities to qualified applicants every other month. To qualify for the free commodities, the recipient must have income not exceeding 150 percent of his or her poverty level.
The commodities amount to a bag of groceries worth about $30. Luton said the food is USDA surplus food. Past distribution bags have contained dry beans, juice, oatmeal, canned fruit and canned vegetables.
Luton said the UT Extension Office receives a list of foods to be included in the bags and will add recipes to the bags which utilize the foods distributed.
Luton said the agency handed out 800 bags of commodities at the end of November. There was also a commodities distribution yesterday.
Luton also said the Warren County Food Bank, located on Red Road, is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She said the food given out by the food bank is determined by the number of members in a household and the income for that household. Vouchers must be obtained from UCHRA prior to visiting.
According to Luton, their Low Energy Assistance fund has money available. Elderly and disabled individuals receive priority when the agency assists with utility costs.
People can stop by the UCHRA office any time to certify to receive food from the food bank or to sign up for Low Energy Assistance. The UCHRA office is located at the back of Warren County Administrative Offices on Locust Street.