Kristi Spencer, Marketing & Communications United Way of Lincoln County
Representatives from the Department of Social Services, United Way of Lincoln County, Lincoln County Schools, Christian Ministries, Atrium Health and several area churches met Tuesday (Feb. 5th) to discuss the food insecurity issues facing Lincoln County.
The poverty rate in the city of Lincolnton is at 30.6%, double the state average of 14.7%. For the county as a whole, the rate is 15.1%--still higher than the state average. The goal of the meeting was to identify churches and nonprofits that have a food program, weeknight meal, food giveaway or food pantry. The information gathered will be used to create a directory of resources to be made available to individuals and families in need.
“The recent government shut down has amplified the food scarcity issues facing many in our community,” said Thomas Mitchell, DSS economic services program manager. “SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients received their February benefits on January 20th and will have to make it last until March--in some cases, they won't get more added to their SNAP EBT cards until late March. Although lawmakers agreed on a temporary deal to reopen the government that guarantees SNAP benefits for March, another shutdown could put food stamp programs in jeopardy. That leaves community food programs and pantries to try to close the gap.”
According to Mitchell, in January of this year 4,075 households, totaling approximately 8,400 individuals in Lincoln County received food assistance benefits.
The Department of Social Services and United Way of Lincoln County are planning a series of three community meetings to communicate the resources identified, so that folks in need know where to go and how to access these services. “The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program provided services to 1,400 mothers and children in Lincoln County in January. We have a lot of families and individuals struggling to make ends meet,” said Kathy Vinzant, United Way of Lincoln County executive director. “The good news is that we also have a lot of churches, nonprofits and individuals who want to help. If we can find a way to bridge the needs with the desire of many to help, we can improve the lives of those hurting in our community.”
Church groups and area non-profits that provide food services are asked to contact DSS to be added to the area resource list. For more information contact: Kathy Vinzant, United Way, 704-576-6153 or Thomas Mitchell, DSS at 704-732- 0738.
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