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Thurmont Food bank needs space

(4/17) The Thurmont Food Bank is looking for a new home and wants the town commissioners either to provide them with town-owned space or help them find a new location.

“St. John’s is growing and is in need of space that the food bank currently occupies,” Commissioner Robert Lookingbill said during a recent town meeting.

Rev. K. Craig Moorman with St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on North Church St. said the church membership considers housing the food bank part of its mission.
“We would never push them out. …We’ve always been under the assumption that they can have the space as long as they need it,” Moorman said.

The Thurmont Ministerium operates the food bank out of a room in St. John’s. About 75 families receive food each month. To be eligible, a family of four has to make less than $3,000 a month. Most Thurmont-area churches have collection baskets. Weis Market has a shopping cart where donations can be left; and government-surplus donations come in about four times a year.

“I would think we give out $40,000 worth of food (a year) probably,” said Rev. Sally Giffin-Joyner, the director of the Thurmont Ministerium.

Because it had been “hinted” at since last year that St. John’s needed the space, Giffin-Joyner came before the commissioners to ask for their help to find “a permanent place.” She also noted that the current location is cramped, has security issues and is not handicapped accessible.

Giffin-Joyner later said that no one had actually asked the food bank to leave, but she expects that a new space will be necessary because of the growing need for the food bank’s service.

“We need to know where we’re going so we don’t have to start looking when this comes to a crisis point,” Giffin-Joyner said.

“Let’s put this on the front burner,” Lookingbill told his fellow commissioners.

However, several suggested locations all had problems for operating a food bank. The library building doesn’t have parking. The senior center building is too far from the center of town. The electric company space in the town office would have non-town employees moving around behind the town building during office hours and weaving in between workers and equipment.

Asked if the ministerium had inquired if any of their own parishioners had a space where the food bank could be located, Griffin-Joyner said, “We haven’t really approached individuals.”

“They’re out there,” John Kinnaird said. “You just have to beat the right bush and talk to the right people.” While he didn’t feel that the town should provide permanent property to a non-municipal organization, he did say the commissioners could offer owners a tax break if they used their property for a charitable use like housing the food bank.

Commissioner Glenn Muth asked that the ministerium provide the commissioners with needed space specifications. This would allow the commissioners to evaluate available space for suitability.

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