Mason Times staff writer
Members of the food bank and Mason community are hopeful for the future, but cuts to federal funding could leave Mason residents without needed resources.
Jeff Keener of the Mason Food Bank said, “We are still waiting for the final federal budget to be hashed out. Right now, just the House version of the budget has been proposed.”
The food bank will remain open to residents until further information is released. There have been a few extensions to keep the government operating. Still, members such as Keener are eagerly awaiting the Senate’s version of the budget and whether it is signed by the president.
“We have heard rumors that we may still be funded but they would go back to funding levels of 2008, which would mean we would have to do some cutback on staff, but we would still be open” said Keener. “If it did come down to that we lost funding and would go out of business, I think that would be devastating for a lot of residents in the area. There would be no other resources for them around here unless somebody stepped up, or the community stepped up or we were able to get private funding.”
Produce from the Mason Community Garden was donated to the Mason Food Bank in order to help out fellow residents. “They give us produce that they grow in their section of the community garden to distribute to our clients, but we also have local farmers who bring in fresh produce on a regular basis to us during the summer months” said Keener.Even though there is a chance that the food bank may close, members of the community who grow produce in the community garden will find other ways of distributing to local residents. City Administrator Martin Colburn said that if the food bank were to close “We would still find a way of distribution, possibly through some of the other community organizations; churches and things of that nature and non-profits.”
“The community here has been very supportive of our agency” said Keener. He said he hopes that his clients will still find a way to get what they need.
Zoning and Development Director David Haywood, announced that he plans to expand the community garden. “We plan on doubling its size and adding more individual plots” said Haywood. Last summer the garden was 10×10 feet and there were around 15 individual plots throughout the city.
There is still a chance that the food bank will remain in business, but members of the community are willing to help out their fellow residents and are looking forward to the upcoming growing season. On the Mason Community Garden Facebook page, Kelli Green says “Spring is just a smile away”.