Residents worry about commodities

Tony Parra

Low-income Portales residents may be worried about a new proposal in the commodities distribution, but organizers are not quite ready to begin panicking.
A group of residents at Tuesday’s Portales city hall meeting expressed concerns that they would have to travel to Clovis to pick up commodities and that the amount would be reduced.
But organizers say their worries are unjustified.
“No, the commodity amounts will not be cut,” Executive Director Nancy Taylor of the Life Saver Food Bank said. “We will meet with Human Services Department officials in Santa Fe on Friday to discuss the new proposal.”
Taylor said that among the topics they will discuss is to allow more distribution points of the commodities. For example, non-government organizations such as churches can be added as distributors.
“This will allow us to be able to provide commodities through additional agencies,” Taylor said. “Churches will qualify and if they decide to distribute, they will do it on their own schedules.”
At this time, the Eastern Community Action Agency out of Tucumcari delivers the commodities to Clovis and Portales. The concern is that there are no delivery arrangements once the Life Saver Food Bank takes over.
“I have no problems with the Food Bank taking over as long as they make arrangements to deliver the commodities to Portales,” Outreach Coordinator Pilar Moreno said. “It’s going to be hard for us if we have pick the commodities from Clovis. We don’t have the funds to pay for a semi to deliver them from Clovis.”
Another change would be the amount of times the commodities are distributed. At this time distributions have been bimonthly, Taylor noted. The new proposal would allow for distributions to be made monthly.
La Casa de La Buena Salud is still planning to distribute commodities to the Memorial Building. The next date for pickup is on Oct. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m.
“There are almost 600 families that we have to provide to,” Moreno said. “It’s going to be almost impossible for us to have to go to Clovis to pick up the commodities and then we still have to deliver to the homebound residents.”
There may be additional agencies involved in the distribution, but officials at the La Case de Buena Salud and the Lifesaver Food Bank of Clovis vow to continue their part in the distribution of the commodities.
“We have obligated ourselves to continue our work in distribution of the commodities,” Taylor said. “I think some of the people were misinformed. They didn’t want the commodities distributed by someone else. I want to be able to ease their concerns.”
Taylor added that she doesn’t believe that the amount of commodities will change, but that aspect is completely up to the United States Department of Agriculture. She said state officials will address the issue of delivering to Portales at the meeting.
Other agencies have been previously involved with the distribution of commodities. At one point, the Community Services Center had been distributing commodities and at times even delivering the commodities to home-bound residents.
“We had been doing it for the last 11 years,” Community Services Center Executive Director Pamela O’Malley said. “We had to give it up within the last year because many of our elderly seniors were having to do the volunteer work. It has a health liability and we didn’t receive any administrative money to carry out the distributions.”
O’Malley went on to say that she believes the Clovis Lifesaver Food Bank will continue to work with agencies, such as La Casa de Buena Salud and add on churches to continue the distribution of food to the Portales residents.