Commissioners thank Marion food bank

for serving county ‘neighbors’ with needs

Marion County commissioners, at their March 31 payday meeting, thanked Gerry Hen­derson, director of the Resource Center and Food Bank, and the center board for what they do to help families in the county.

“We also want to thank you for…helping us spend our donations on groceries rather than on electricity,” Henderson said, “and hope you will continue doing that. Marion Advancement Cam­paign pays our utility bills—and we know it’s high because we have a lot of refrigerators and freezers there.”

The MCRCFB is open two days a week on Monday from 9 a.m. to noon, and Thursday from 4-7 p.m.

“We’ve been two years in the building (on Main Street), and in the last three months we served 700 neighbors,” Henderson said.

Statistics

During the nine months in 2016 from January through September, the center served 6,866 neighbors, an average of 763 per month, according to Hen­der­son.

The 6,866 visitors were categorized into the 11 communities served by the MCRCFB: Marion 2,462, Hillsboro 1,107, Peabody 1,018, Florence 945, Lost Springs 336, Burns 297, Ramona 254, Lincolnville 161, Lehigh 149, Goessel 128 and Tampa 9.

Commission Chair Randy Dallke asked what qualifies people for groceries or other services. He asked if there is any way to keep track of the neighbors.

Henderson said he made it clear that when he was asked to be involved in the change from the Methodist Church to their current location that he wasn’t concerned with being a “food Nazi.”

“What we do is check to see when a neighbor comes into the building, if they live in Marion County and can they document that?” he said. “Secondly, do you have a need in filling their grocery bill? Beyond that we ask people to take what they need, but then need what they take.”

Growing pains

The process has changed from years past. Kathy Henderson, coordinator of volunteers, advertised and was able to get enough helpers that every neighbor that shops at the food bank has a volunteer who goes with them.

“The reason is so that a neighbor knows what is there, because it changes often, and we are pretty sure people are not gaming us,” Gerry Henderson said. “Can they? Yes, but we don’t think (they do).”

People can also shop for two weeks. For a family of eight, that can equate to 10 shopping bags of food.

“People aren’t hoarding like they did a little bit in the beginning,” he said. “We improved the availability of groceries immensely because of the generosity of this county.

“We are now getting donations of cash, donations of groceries and volunteers from all over this county. Two weeks ago we got a check from Aulne Church for $3,000.”

That happens from every Christian organization and church in this county, he said, and every community, which wasn’t the case in the beginning.

Dallke said he has heard about bread and other foods being wasted. Henderson donations coming in are right on the expiration date.

“We get it frozen, and keep it frozen until we put it on the shelves,” he said. “We got a delivery last Tuesday from the warehouse (in Wichita), which was 5,000 pounds of groceries for $2,000.”

County Counselor Susan Robson asked if the food bank accepts fresh produce in the summer; Henderson said it does.

Commissioner Kent Becker said the resource center and food bank is a blessing to our county.

“The need is so great,” he said.

Preparing foods

Renae Riedy, Marion County Extension agent, wrote a grant through Kan­sas State University allowing her to hire Myrna Billings, former high school consumer science teacher.

“Using the grant money, Myrna will come to the food bank (not every week), but using things we already have she will use to prepare something with the recipe ready for the neighbors who come shopping that day,” he said.

Other MCRCFB board members include Jackie Volbrecht, chairperson of the mission committee; Janet Bryant, involved with the church food bank for 30 years; Bryant’s daughter, Jan Helmer, treasurer; Linda Ogden and Gene Winkler, liaison between the bank and MAC.

“Chase Gann, from Hillsboro, joined our board more than a year ago, and that’s been a blessing,” Henderson said. “We have had a lot of great cooperation from Hillsboro all along, and the American Legion Toy Run has written us a great check every year.”

Dallke said budget time is nearing and a request from the center will be reviewed.

Henderson said: “If you just give us what you have done before, the $6,000 or $7,000 that would be fine. But if we need to come back just let us know.”

Comprehensive plan

About 30 people attended the Marion County Planning Commission meeting Thurs­day that addressed roads, land use and other issues, said Emma Tachjman, coun­t­y planning and zoning director.

“The plan touches on socio-economics, housing, transportation system, utilities, drainage and flooding, community facilities and land use,” said Shirley Omstead, recording secretary.

The last comprehensive plan was approved in 2003; this plan is from the 2016 census, she explained.

Other business

In other business, the commission:

• accepted a bid from EBH & Associates for Terra­con of Wichita to do testing on 330th Road from Kansas Highway 15 west to the Marion County line. Darin Neufeld, engineer, said the fee for EBH would be between $15,000 and $16,000.

• heard from Bud Druse, director of the transfer station, who asked the commissioners for a mower, but Dallke deferred the request for another time.

The last comprehensive plan was approved in 2003; this plan is from the 2016 census, she explained.

The Planning Commis­sion Board of Zoning Appeals staff include Dwight Flaming, Marty Dalke, Brad Vannocker, all from District 1, which includes Hillsboro.

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