Food pantry runs low on space and canned goods

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By Robin Bass

For the first time in the four years that Jill Whitehouse has led the effort to distribute canned goods to local residents in need, last month she completely ran out of food.

Several factors contributed to the dilemma, said the program coordinator for Spencer County’s Multi-Purpose Action Committee (MPAC). Contributions by area churches were down and requests for food that month were up.

“I have filled more emergency boxes than normal,” said Whitehouse of the 49 individual requests for food. “I have totally run out of food and more than once.”

As a result, some were turned away – but only briefly. An unexpected arrival of 140 cans from First Christian Church helped many just in their time of need, said Whitehouse.

The problem is surprisingly not about being unable to get food, she said. Dare to Care of Louisville would bring a truckload if requested. The problem for MPAC is where to store all of it, said Whitehouse.

Currently MPAC is servicing about 200 clients each month through their food programs for seniors, low-income families and those in emergency situations.

“I’m working out of a conference room and there’s just not enough space to house the amount of canned goods we need,” she said.

When Whitehouse learned that Spencer County Fiscal Court had approved Monday to move forward with a new storage facility for MPAC, she let out a sigh of relief.

Fiscal court unanimously agreed to spend up to $6,000 toward building a 20 ft. by 30 ft. storage building. At one end would be a large garage door so that shipments could easily be unloaded and stored, while an exterior door on the other end would be for access by Whitehouse and others working with the food pantry.

No construction start date was specified, but Judge Executive David Jenkins recited a long list of people who plan to donate labor or time to the project. The magistrates even discussed installing the interior walls themselves.

The new storage building will be located near the senior center on Ray Drive.

In the interim, Whitehouse said the food pantry is in need of canned vegetables and fruits, soups, and canned meats. Residents in need also request items that can not be purchased with food stamps, like toothpaste, soap and toilet paper.

In other fiscal court news:

The web design company GetSet, owned by Sue Schaefer, was given a six month extension on a contract to maintain the county’s website. GetSet is paid $290 per month.

The $16,437.50 bid to install new guard rails along three county roads was approved. Brashears Creek, Max Rouse and Murray roads were damaged by heavy rains earlier this year that resulted in sections of roads being washed away. The bid, entered by EFI of Elizabethtown, includes 1,137.5 linear feet of guard rail, labor, traffic control and job supervision.

Court discussed drug testing for all full-time and part-time county employees and agreed to research various companies that provide the service. Currently, only the road crew are randomly drug tested as a requirement for commercial driver’s licenses by the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Agencies that would likely be affected are the Sheriff’s Department, EMS, the county clerk’s office, county attorney’s office and the parks department. Elected officials would not be subject to random drug screening.

Court approved unanimously spending $800 on fertilizer for both county parks and the purchase of 100 tons of sand at the price of $1,050.

Court reviewed a written proposal by John Lilly to use the old jail house as a museum. They voted to table the discussion for further review.

The next Spencer County Fiscal Court meeting will be held November 9 at 1 p.m.