POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Homeless Shelter in Point Pleasant works to fight homelessness by providing emergency food boxes for those in need.
John Machir, the director of the homeless shelter, said the food pantry operates under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines, which means that Mason County residents have to qualify for assistance based on income requirements. Machir said a family in need of food needs to go to the DHHR office to start the paperwork.
The food boxes are part of the emergency food assistance program through the USDA. Machir described the pantry as a “homeless prevention program.”
“It’s a lot easier to provide food to people to keep them housed,” Machir said. Families often rely on food pantries so they can pay their rent and utilities. Machir said if they couldn’t have access to pantries, they would be un-housed to pay for food.
The pantry at the shelter also receives donations from the community to help supplement the food from the government. Machir said that the USDA food boxes do not always have a variety of things to make a meal, but he can use donated food to help the families stretch their meals. An example that Machir gave of this is using sausage patties from the USDA and flour and milk from donations to make gravy. Meals like this will help a family increase the amount of days they can feed their family.
Machir asks the community to donate items from a list, which help to supplement the USDA food items. These items include ingredients and easy items for children to fix, such as microwave macaroni and cheese cups and easy open snacks. The list that Machir sends to the public included powdered mashed potatoes, pasta and sauce, rice, crackers, box meals, canned ravioli, flour, sugar, fruit cups, peanut butter, dried fruits, cooking oil, cereal and oatmeal.
The donated pantry is also available to families who need food but are slightly over the USDA income requirements.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.