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Panel aims to streamline surplus food program



Published: Wed, June 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The county distributes food vouchers four times a year.

By VIRGINIA ROSS

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

NEW BEAVER, Pa. -- The Lawrence County commissioners said they are exploring ways to make the county's surplus food program more effective.

County officials met Tuesday with representatives from several area agencies, including the Salvation Army and City Rescue Mission, to discuss various ways the county could work with those agencies to get more food to more people.

"Our program, what we have in place now, is very efficient," said Commissioner Steve Craig. "I don't think it could be anymore efficient. But we're trying to look at ways to make it more effective ... to get more out of our money and stretch that money as far as we possibly can."

Craig and Commissioner Chairman Dan Vogler spoke about the county's free food distribution program at their regular weekly meeting Tuesday.

Examining the program

The meeting, as part of an ongoing program through summer, was conducted at the New Beaver Municipal Building. Commissioners meet at a different municipality in the county the last Tuesday evening of every month. Commissioner Ed Fosnaught was absent.

Commissioners explained the county distributes food vouchers to eligible residents four times a year. However, the county is exploring ways to provide more food to more people, and looking at possibly having food available to recipients more often.

"We don't know where we might go with this," Craig said. "That's why we're meeting with agencies and organizations who want to do the same thing, to see if we can work together to get more food out there for people."

Artisha Foster, former director of the county's surplus food program, was instrumental in converting the food giveaway at municipal buildings to a voucher distribution system where qualified low-to-moderate-income residents could go to local participating grocery stores to receive their free groceries directly.

Making plans

Commissioners said they have not decided how the food program will operate in the future. However, Foster, who last month was named the county's tax claim bureau director, agreed to organize one more voucher giveaway. That giveaway was conducted earlier this week, in time for the Fourth of July.

Commissioners said they don't know whether they will replace Foster, but they have been looking at r & eacute;sum & eacute;s.

They said they want to reassure program participants that the county will continue helping them.

"Artisha has done an incredible job," Craig said. "We couldn't be any more pleased with her work. We want to look at how we can get the most and give away the most to the people in our county who need it. We don't want to miss anyone and we don't want anyone doing without."




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