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Thurmont Food Bank likely to
relocate to town office

(11/20) The Thurmont town government may soon take on a larger role in supporting the Thurmont Food Bank.

“The vast majority of people in our parishes are in favor of the town providing resources,” Pastor James Hamrick with Lamb of God in Lewistown told the Thurmont Commissioners during their Nov. 10 town meeting.

Thurmont Commissioner Bob Lookingbill and representatives of the Thurmont Food Bank have been pushing for months for the food bank to be given space in the Thurmont town office. Town officials offered other town-owned space and helped solicit some possible private locations, but the food bank representatives rejected them all, continuing to say that space at the rear of the town office was the optimum location.

“Just give them a chance back there,” Lookingbill said. He would like the food bank to have a two-year lease on the space with an option to extend it for two more years.

As of the end of October 2008, the Thurmont Food Bank has already served more than twice as many individuals as it did in all of 2007. Space for the food to give these people and for them to wait to get their food is growing tight at the food bank’s current location in St. John’s Lutheran Church on North Church Street.

Though the space that the food bank is seeking at the town office would allow for more storage, it would have a smaller waiting area for clients than the fellowship hall at St. John’s. The town space would also need some modifications, according to Sally Joyner Giffin, pastor of Harriet Chapel Episcopal Church.

The space in the town office is currently being used for storage. When the Thurmont Police Department moved out of the town office, it freed up space that allowed the town to stop paying roughly $1,700 a year for off-site storage.

Commissioner Glenn Muth said that if a cost-effective alternative for storage of the items that would need to be moved could be developed, he would support relocating the food bank to the town office. Lookingbill suggested storing anything that needed to be moved in the new Thurmont Police station.

Mayor Martin Burns said he doesn’t believe it is government’s role to house the food bank. Walkersville town government provides space and utilities for its food bank, but it is apparently the only government-sited food bank in Frederick County.
Burns’s other objection is that he believes it won’t be a temporary location for the food bank.

“I also believe once you guys move in, you’re never moving out,” Burns said.
Muth volunteered to chair a committee that would look at the feasibility of relocating the food bank into the town office versus other locations.

“I cannot believe there is not ample room in some of the larger churches in Thurmont for the food bank,” said John Kinnaird of Thurmont, who opposed the relocation.

Commissioner Ron Terpko said property owners have had time to volunteer their buildings. “If somebody had a space who wanted to give it, we would have already heard from them,” Terpko said.

Brian Lynch of Thurmont said that providing the increased support, potentially free space and utilities to one non-profit organization, would give other non-profits in Thurmont reason to ask for an equivalent level of support.

The commissioners plan to vote on the relocation issue during the Nov. 24 town meeting.

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