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With the economy shaky, people are looking at every way possible to held make ends meet. For many in Bulloch County Thursday, that meant standing in line to obtain commodities distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Lines formed Thursday morning at the Outreach Center on Denmark Street, extending down hallways and almost out of the building as hundreds waited their turn to accept the bags of canned goods and nonperishables.
A mountain of plastic grocery bags were piled along the wall inside one room, already filled with each person's approved quota of canned vegetables, juices, dried and canned fruits, rice, beef stew, tuna and peanut butter.
As volunteers with Concerted Services helped citizens carry out bags, filled out forms and answered questions, those in line inched closer to the moment they could walk out with just a little more help with their financial demands.
Commodities are distributed " whenever we get the commodities," said Anne-Marie Goodson, Concerted Services service program assistant. The last distribution was June 12, but lately, distribution dates have not been on a regular scheduled due to demands placed on the supply by victims of hurricanes and food being shipped to soldiers overseas, she said,
"We haven't (received the commodities) as frequently" due to those demands, where foods are diverted to disaster efforts or the troops.
The requirements to be eligible for commodities - provided free of charge to those who qualify - are minimal.
A single person who makes $1,127 a month or less is eligible for commodities; a couple making $1,517 is eligible, and the scale goes up to a family of eight that only has an income of $3,857 a month being eligible.
For each additional family member the eligibility amount is increased by $390 a month, according to information Goodson provided.
Those asking for commodities must also present a form of identification. They must sign a form verifying income as well.
With the economy as it is, and pennies being pinched, even the USDA is feeling the crunch, said Concerted Services Bulloch County Director Mary Phillips.
"The USDA warehouse is almost empty," she said, adding that the local food bank has even contacted them about food sources, since the shelves are becoming bare. "It's because of the hurricanes this past month."
Phillips said 792 low-income Bulloch County residents were served this week through the commodity distribution. The hours spent Thursday distributing the food were from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but if there is any food left, the Concerted Services volunteers will be giving bags of food to qualified persons, she said.