U.S.D.A. food available to those eligible

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U.S.D. A. food items will be available Wednesday morning in Craig for those households that qualify. The commodities also are offered Wednesday afternoon at the Dinosaur Social Service building.

Residents around Maybell picked up food items at the community center early Tuesday morning.

An assortment of canned foods, cereals, rice, nuts and juice are offered on a quarterly basis to households that dip below income guidelines that are 185 percent of the poverty level.

According to the guidelines, a single person must earn less than $1,385 a month to receive the government-issued benefits. A two-person family can accept commodities if their income falls below $1,869 and a three-person family is eligible if earning less than $2,353. Households of four to eight members must make less than $2,837, $3,321, $3,805, and $4,289 respectively.

Households of more than eight should add $485 to their income for each additional family member to determine if they qualify.

The commodities program has generated a lot of interest but the numbers of families who take advantage of the program fluctuates, said Laura Willems, the self-sufficiency manager at Moffat County Social Services.

Stigmas or stereotypes about receiving aid shouldn't keep families from coming forward, she said.

"We want people to come get assistance if they need it and respect their wishes if they chose not to," Willems said. "I think some people have (reservations) about any (food assistance) programs, but it shouldn't stop them from coming."

Willems couldn't quantify if more families are seeking aid this year, but last year an average of 225 Moffat County households accepted commodities, she said.

"There are a lot of things here that can help stretch your dollars," Willems added.

Pricey food items, such as dry milk and cereal, can help out needy families and take the edge off expensive food budgets, she said.

And families who may only need a few of the offered items can pick and choose within their allotment.

The effort to bring the surplus government food items to the community has spurred an impromptu volunteer movement. When the shipments arrive, community members sometimes hoist the heavy boxes into storage. Groups from Horizons Specialized Services, the Shiloh House and others pitch in to finish most of the physical labor.

Because Social Service workers aren't sure of which items or what quantities of food they'll receive every four months, it's difficult for most recipients to know what to expect.

A block of cheese, a favorite among some recipients, unfortunately hasn't been issued for a while.

"People always want to know if we're getting that again," said Pam Hurd, a staff assistant with the Social Service agency.

A picture I.D. and proof of address and income or eligibility is required.

For more information call

824-8282.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or by email at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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