Representatives from the Lincoln County Department of Social Services, United Way of Lincoln County, Lincoln County Schools, Christian Ministries, Atrium Health and several area churches met on Tuesday, Feb. 5 to discuss the food insecurity issues facing Lincoln County.
The poverty rate in Lincolnton is more than 30 percent, double 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 for people and families in need.
“The recent (federal) government shutdown 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 Jan. 20 and will have to make it last until 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, 4,075 households, totaling approximately 8,400 people in Lincoln County, received food assistance benefits. DSS and United Way of Lincoln County are planning a series of three community meetings to communicate the resources identified.
“The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program provided services to 1,400 mothers and children in Lincoln County in January,” said Kathy Vinzant, United Way of Lincoln County executive director. “We have a lot of families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. 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 nonprofits that provide food services are asked to contact DSS to be added to the area resource list. For more information, contact Vinzant at 704-576-6153 or Mitchell from DSS at 704-732- 0738.