Loaves and Fishes to break ground Monday

Monday, June 12, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- A ground-breaking for new facilities of Loaves and Fishes Food Bank was held at 10 a.m. Monday across from the entry to the Berryville Cemetery on Bunch Springs Road.

The new facility will be on two and one-half acres of land donated by Mary Trimble. Loaves and Fishes has been offered a low-interest loan from a private trust to build the new building, with a monthly mortgage payment of more than $2,000 over five years.

The final 25 percent of the loan would be donated from the private trust as a gift.

The facility has long been in need of additional floor space with the ability to partition areas for food repackaging, client interviews, and storage counter for distribution, as well as a loading dock so items can be wheeled into the food bank.

To accomplish the project, funds are needed, hence donations are being accepted, according to Director Sara Hodgson.

Loaves and Fishes has a 20-year history in Carroll County, providing direct distribution of food to the needy within the county. The program strives to offer a hand up to its clients, as opposed to a hand out.

The challenge can be seen in demographic statistics which show that Carroll County, compared to national averages in 2000, has 11 percent fewer high school graduates, 43 percent fewer college graduates, 27 percent more people over age 65, 25 percent more people who are disabled, a median household income that is 36 percent less, and 20 percent more people below the national poverty level.

With a larger facility, volunteers plan to provide educational classes for clients, including management of finances and cooking.

When Loaves and Fishes started in 1985, there were 1,500 pounds of food distributed. In 2003 there were 151,311 pounds of salvage food distributed and at least that much more in commodity food, done at an annual cost of $9,692. One year later, in 2004, more than 250,000 pounds of salvage and government commodity food was distributed in the county.

Food comes from USDA commodity distribution, salvage food from stores and food manufacturers, donations of food, food drives, and individual donations.

The program is manned by volunteers, some of whom are clients, as well as retirees and full-time workers who volunteer on the time after work or on their days off.

Several churches and individuals include the food bank in their monthly expenses. Some groups hold garage sales and other fund-raising events.

Clients include disabled persons, the working poor, the elderly poor, and persons in crisis, such as loss of employment, legal difficulties, medical problems, and recent relocation to the area for work.

Donations to Loaves and Fishes may be sent to the current office, 207 S. Main Street Suite 3, Berryville, AR 72616, or brought by the office between 4 and 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, or between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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