Tyrone Area Food Bank going strong despite increase in number of families

In 2002, the Tyrone Area Food Bank served 317 households, 514 adults, 356 children and 49 members of the elderly population. In 2003, the numbers in each of those categories increased.
That means a lot of people are using the service which takes hundreds, even thousands, to make possible.
“I expect this trend to continue for the forseable future,” said Rev. Vance Clark, director of the Tyrone Area Food Bank. “Perhaps it may stablize around these figures as the economy of this area stablizes.
For example, volunteers at the Food Bank last Thursday handed out items to 27 different families.
“We’re doing really well,” said Clark. “Although we’ve been growing as far as the number of families we serve goes, we’re still able to meet all the needs and put together volunteer teams to sort the packages and dispense them.”
According to Clark, six volunteers are needed for a day’s work, and these six are taken from a pool of about 65 people who volunteer their time.
Food items that are offered include anything that is non-perishable – canned goods, dry cereals and grains, etc. Also, the food bank offers meats, eggs and other perishable goods. Clark said the perishable goods are normally not donated to the food bank. He said the group normally purchases these types of items, despite less help from outside agencies.
“We are noticing that less help is coming from Federal and State Food Help programs,” said Clark. “Recently, we have had no meat available from these sources and these are the most expensive items in our inventory.
“Two factors figure into this problem,” he said. “The needs of the war effort against terrorism and the deficits in both Federal and State budgets. These two things have taken a gerater part of food aid items available for charitable distribution.”
Unlike many other charitable organizations, the Tyrone Area Food Bank does not need “proof” that a family or individual is deserving of the charity.
“We don’t use a means test or anything like that,” said Clark. “If people come in and tell us they are in need, we’ll give it to them. No questions asked.”
Although the process may seem lenient, Clark said there are provisions taken.
“We limit calls to six times per year for each person or individual,” said Clark. “There are special exceptions though.”
Those interested in donating food to the Tyrone Area Food Bank can do so by dropping the items off at the Westley United Methodist Church, Monday through Friday, from 9-11 a.m. The Food Bank is open each Thursday, also at Wesley, from 9-10:30 a.m.
The volunteers at the Food Bank are busy preparing for the winter months.
“As we face the busiest time of the year in the Thanksgiving and Christian Holidays, we will need the help of the annual Scout Drive and contributions from churches, local businesses, organizations and individuals, to replenish stocks that will be depleted over this busy time when so many needy persons come to us for help at the holidays,” said Clark. “We expect to meet this challenge as we have in the past.”