CDBG funds earmarked for senior food pantry

FLINT TWP. — A free food pantry for senior citizens will be the beneficiary of the township’s 2013-15 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) public service funding.

The board voted unanimously at its October 29 meeting to allocate $25,000 to support the food pantry operated at the Flint Township senior citizens center on Graham Road.

The money is 15 percent of CDBG allocation the township expects to receive in the next three-year funding cycle.

Board action follows a public hearing held on Oct. 15 to get public input on ways to spend the money.

CDBG Public Service Project funds can be spent in areas including senior citizens services, neighborhood activities including crime watches, job training, public safety, substance abuse counseling, fair housing counseling and recreation.

In response to public comment about reduced funding in next year’s general operations budget for the senior citizens center, township supervisor Karyn Miller said that the center is primarily financed by a countywide millage which brings in about $170,000 per year.

Because the township owns the building housing the senior citizens center and library, it budgeted more money for it in 2012 to cover repair and upgrade costs. The budget is returning to more typical level next year.

Miller added that the senior citizens center holds its own fundraisers and also receives other CDBG funding.

The public service allocation specifically directs that it be spent to buy food and supplies, paper and household products for the pantry’s free distribution to senior citizens. Also it can be spent on repairs to the senior citizen van which is used to do grocery shopping.

Trustee Frank Kasle asked questions about how often and how much food is distributed to those requesting it.

Jim McClung, a member of the senior center’s governing board, said that recipients are allowed to request food once every 30 days and must provide identification.

McClung has spoken at previous board meetings about the growing need to feed the hungry in Flint Township.

About 90 percent of them are elderly women, including widows living on limited income averaging less than $900 a month, pantry operator Bob Moore said in an interview last March.

Moore said then that he hoped to see the program’s $9,300 allocation in the current CDBG cycle increased to $11,000 a year in the next cycle to keep up with the growing need.

Food is given to any senior age 60 and up, regardless of income or residence in Flint Township, Moore said.

He set the limit of one request per month to give a more people a chance to get help.

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