New food bank coming
The Emery County Commission held a public hearing to take comments on the new food bank building the county is planning to build this year. The county has applied for a community block grant which they received and the amount is up to $400,000. Commissioner Gary Kofford said the building will be constructed on the same property as the current food bank. The new building will be constructed behind the current building and then the old building will be torn down and that area will be used for parking.
Jackie Butkovich the director for food banks in the area gave a few facts about food banks and their use. She said the food bank has seen an increase in usage since the economic downturn. The main purpose of the food bank is to hand out food boxes to needy people. Every 30 days a needy person is allowed to pick up a food box. The food bank keeps track of the number of families served in the program. Last year the food bank saw between 55-60 people per month. This year that number has climbed to 105 a month. The new cases have stated their unemployment has run out and they are in need. The food bank offers emergency assistance where they could help with gas money for doctor appointments and other emergency situations.
In addition to the food assistance other assistance is offered such as the commodity cooking classes which teach people how to cook with the commodities they are issued at the food bank. Some of these include rice, beans, canned vegetables and fruits. The class gives recipes and cooking demonstrations to create dinners palatable to the recipients of these commodities. Another program is the HEAT assistance which helps people with their utility bills through the winter months. Payments are made directly to the utility. There is also a HEAT crisis program where if someone has had their utilities shut-off HEAT can help get them turned back on and offer assistance.
The food bank is also assisted each year by various food drives in the county. Around Thanksgiving time each year, Emery High has a large food drive and the boys scouts recently completed their scouting for food drive. The mail carriers have a food drive where they will collect food at the local post offices. A truck comes to the food bank once each month. The state gives money to the food bank so they can purchase fresh food items for the food bank for a greater variety for the patrons.
Kofford said it is a great program and a great service to the county. The county hopes to have construction underway by July. Since this is a federal project, Davis Bacon wages will need to be paid. Kofford said they have been to training to make sure they are aware of all the requirements involved. NEPA will need to be done on the property which includes several surveys and evaluations. The old building also has asbestos and that will need to be abated. Several letters will need to be sent to federal agencies to look at all aspects of the project including clean air requirements during the demolition of the old building. "We need to address all these things, we will need a special permit to tear down the old building and have the asbestos removed. We hope to move quickly. We will get an architect on board. We have $400,000 for the project which we hope is enough for the new building and the architect. The new building will include: offices, cooler, soap room, food storage room, and a break room where classes can be conducted."
Butkovich said there may be some disruption of service while the project is ongoing and they are looking for temporary housing for the food bank during this time.
Kofford said, "There will be an audit by the feds at the end of the project. There is a risk the county would have to pay for the project itself, if we are not in compliance with all federal requirements."