First Posted: 11/29/2009
Recent giveaways of U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities in Surry have been well-attended events, and organizers expect the same for another free food distribution scheduled Friday in Mount Airy.
I would say that its very indicative of the state of our economy in Surry County, said Lorene Jones of Dobson, longtime coordinator of USDA commodities distributions locally. Jones added that she also is aware of hardships through her work as a volunteer with Foothills Food Pantry in Dobson.
Our numbers just keep growing, she said, citing a continuing high unemployment rate as a factor. More and more families seem to be in need of assistance as a result, Jones added.
Fridays distribution here is officially slated from 9 a.m. to noon at Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street, where vehicles have been lined up all around the grounds during similar events this year. But organizers plan to be on hand until every client is served or all food has been given away.
On Thursday, another distribution is planned at the old Kmart building on North Bridge Street in Elkin from 9-11 a.m.
Those receiving the food must be Surry County residents.
It is anticipated that almost 2,000 families will be served over the two days, compared to 1,876 during the last giveaway in September, which represented 3,653 individuals in Mount Airy and Elkin combined.
It is anticipated that well probably have more than that this time, Jones said.
Earlier distributions in April and February served 1,465 and 1,506 households, respectively.
Chickens Added To List
Some 90,209 pounds of food worth $40,297 will be given out Thursday and Friday, which Jones said represents three tractor-trailer loads of items.
In addition to other commodities, 8,000 whole chickens will be distributed meaning each family is to receive four chickens.
Jones said officials of the Surry County Department of Social Services, which is responsible for the food distribution, were notified of the availability of the chickens from the USDA commodities program and jumped at the chance to receive them.
Theres so many things you can do with them, Jones said. Its a very versatile meat item.
Other foods scheduled to be distributed include green beans, tomato sauce, walnuts, orange juice, pears, beef stew, pork, milk, rotini, ham, oats, rice, peanut butter and roasted peanuts.
The food will be given out on a drive-through basis, with recipients being screened by volunteers as to their eligibility and then having the bagged food placed in the vehicles.
Local food giveaways are made possible through the assistance of about 150 volunteers at both locations, including church groups who bag the items earlier in the week. East Surry High School JROTC members also play an invaluable role in helping the food get distributed, Jones said.
In addition, the Hardy Brothers trucking firm in Siloam donates the use of trailers to store the items, and Veterans Memorial Park officials charge only a small fee to cover utilities for use of their facilities.
Surry County Sheriffs Office personnel will manage traffic at the park Friday, the coordinator added.
Those wanting to receive the free commodities do not have to be food stamp recipients, but must meet income guidelines. Announcements related to food stamp clients were scheduled to be mailed before the two distribution dates.
Individuals seeking the items must provide proof of identification indicating they are Surry County residents, such as a North Carolina drivers license, food stamp card, utility bill, rent receipt or similar documentation.
One person may pick up foods for multiple families or homebound individuals. However, they must bring along identifying information and a note from those they are picking up for stating their income and household size and authorizing the individual to receive their commodities.
Jones called the income-eligibility guidelines for recipients pretty generous.
For example, the gross earnings for a one-person household must be below $14,079 per year (or $1,174 per month or $271 per week).
A four-member familys gross annual income must be less than $28,665 ($2,389 a month or $552 per week).
For an eight-person household, the income limit is $48,113 per year ($4,010 per month or $926 a week).
Income figures can be supplied during the distribution on a self-declaration basis, Jones said.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.