The Lincoln County Department of Social Services and the United Way are partnering to host a food assistance resource meeting on Tuesday.

The purpose is to create a directory of churches and nonprofits that have a food program, weeknight meal, food giveaway or food pantry.

According to Thomas Mitchell, DSS economic services program manager, the government shutdown was the impetus behind the project. SNAP recipients received February benefits on on Jan. 20 and will have to make it last until March. Although lawmakers agreed on a temporary deal to reopen the government that guarantees SNAP benefits for March, another shutdown could put food stamp programs in jeopardy. That leaves community food programs and pantries to try to close the gap.

Mitchell hopes the meeting will provide an opportunity learn what programs are available.

“And to get an idea of where our community partners are as far as food on hand and how many can they serve,” Mitchell said. “Are they ready for this impact for people that run out? For example, if half of food stamp recipients run out of food in February, are they prepared to have this influx of people come in? That’s why DSS wanted to be a part of the conversation. If they needed help with people to do intake or need manpower then maybe we can try to help community partners so our citizens can have enough food to get them until March.”

Currently, Lincoln County’s poverty rate is 12.5 percent, lower than the state average of 14.7 percent. Within the city of Lincolnton, the poverty rate is 30.6 percent, according to US Census data. According to Mitchell, there are about 4,500 households that vary in size in Lincoln County receiving food assistance, or about 11,000 individuals.

The food assistance resource meeting is open to any church or nonprofit in the county that operates some type of food assistance program. Mitchell said that community meetings throughout the county could take place, depending on whether April benefits are at risk should the government shutdown again. Once the information is compiled it’ll be distributed throughout the county.

The food assistance resource meeting will take place Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Lincoln County DSS, 1136 E. Main Street Lincolnton from 1-2 p.m.

For more information contact:

Kathy Vinzant, United Way, 704-576-6153 or Thomas Mitchell, DSS at 704-732-0738

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