By LEE REVIS
Valdez Star 

Some emergency food distributions in Valdez cut

Board members of the food bank cite lacked of trained volunteers for TEFAP program

 


One of the food programs for the needy will ceased operating in Valdez last month according the outgoing president of the local food bank.

TEFAP - The Emergency Food Assistance Program – which distributes federal aid such as frozen meat – and the well-known "Government Cheese" will no longer be available in Valdez due to a lack of trained volunteers according to Debbie Needles.

Needles said she would be stepping down from the board due for personal reasons.

"We had a young girl who was doing our TEFAP program," Needles said in an interview last week, but volunteers come and go in small organizations, and the Valdez Food Bank is no exception.

"That was a big loss for the food bank," Needles said.

The Food Bank needs three trained board members to administer TEFAP, which come with strict regulations from the federal government that must be followed closely by organizations in order to qualify for the free food aid.

"There has to be two minimum," Needles said, as the bookkeeping and recordkeeping to administer the program must be maintained correctly.

The board of directors for the Valdez Food Bank are held a board meeting May 14 at Bayside Community Church and at the top of its agenda was the election of board officers.

"Our group is splintering," Needles said, and fresh blood, new volunteers and board members are desperately needed just to keep the regular food distribution network going. "These are women and men who have been doing this for years."

Needles said the food bank board is a working board – meaning that its members actively volunteer to run the food bank.

"It's a lot of work, but it isn't," she said, noting that distributing food aid on Thursdays is just the final result of the work that is done behind the scenes: logging in donations, picking up food from donators such as the grocery store or even the schools.


The organization also delivers food to shut-ins and provides other services to the needy citizens of Valdez.

Needles is asking people to consider volunteering.

"They need to be reliable," she said.

As for TEFAP ending, Needles says it can still be saved.

"We can bring it back," she said – it just needs one more trained and dedicated volunteer.

Photo Valdezfoodbank.org

The Valdez Food Bank provides not just food, but in some cases aid for other necessities such as utilities.

 

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