To be more accessible to working families who still need assistance, Samaritan Outreach Services has announced that it will extend the hours it is open on Wednesday three hours to 7 p.m. starting Feb. 3.
While Samaritan Outreach remains plenty busy serving an average of 950 families each month, director Wade Hamilton said it’s not necessarily an increase in demand behind the reason the charity food pantry is extending its hours.
“What has increased now is that people are actually getting jobs in this area,” Hamilton said. “They’re slowly getting back on their feet.”
Hamilton said Samaritan Outreach has served as many as 1,200 families a month and as few as 700. He said that at Christmas most local organizations that help families in need saw a reduction in the number of requests for help, and that the staff at Samaritan has received numerous comments about how hard it is to access community resources after returning to work.
“Working families make up quite a large percentage of our clients here,” said Samaritan receptionist Bette Rankin. “We’re glad to be able to offer a few evening hours each week to help supplement working families while they’re getting back on their feet.”
In the past, Samaritan Outreach has been open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But it will now extend its Wednesday hours to 7 p.m. The Monday and Tuesday hours will remain unchanged.
“The reality is that parents working minimum wage jobs to support their families often have to choose between paying for food or paying for other household essentials like hygiene items, cleaning products, or clothes. If we can help struggling families, even a little bit, we’re going to do it,” Hamilton said.
Samaritan Outreach works to end hunger in Highland County by providing wholesome food to those in need and by promoting solutions to the underlying causes of hunger through collaboration and education, it said in a news release.
Hamilton said eligible families served by Samaritan can receive a three-day supply for every member of the family once a month. He said that supply is enough food for each family member to have three meals for three days.
“It’s basically like an emergency three-day supply,” Hamilton said.
In addition, he said that Samaritan often has excess bread, sweets and produce available in its lobby and that there is no limit on how often a family can pick up those items.
Samaritan, Outreach was formed in 1989 by the Rev. John and Jean Carson, operates as a charity food pantry in the Highland County area funded primarily by community grants and private donations. Eligibility for services falls within the guidelines of federal income levels.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.