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New program provides food for Alcona residents

HARRISVILLE — A new food distribution program will be available to Alcona County residents in June.

Lenny Avery, the executive director for the Alcona County Commission on Aging, on Wednesday told the Alcona County Board of Commissioners they will distribute 1,350 boxes of food per week starting in June, for up to 32 weeks.

The Alcona County Commission on Aging is among several communities to partner with Gordon Food Service, who received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Being “a walking, breathing human” is the only eligibility requirement to receive the food, Avery said.

There are no income or age requirements for a person to receive a box of food, which will be distributed simultaneously at five locations around the county.

Distribution locations include Lincoln, Black River, Curran, Barton City, and Mikado.

Times and locations of the distributions have yet to be announced.

Avery, who has also been overseeing a pop-up pantry in Lincoln, said there is a “huge need” for food to be distributed in the community.

The pantry opens at 4 p.m. and in about 45 minutes, the food is all gone

“I have done a pop-up pantry for the last 10 weeks and we have had 375 vehicles,” he said, noting the next pop up pantry is scheduled for May 28 at Alcona Elementary School in Lincoln.

Avery said the food was originally earmarked for restaurants.

“This is in response to the media finding out that a lot of these big-type producers were throwing food away, euthanizing their stock and writing it off on their taxes or writing it off in insurance losses,” he said.

While the agency is able to administer the food distributions for the next 32 weeks, Avery said the program could end early as more and more restaurants reopen.

“It all depends on how many more restaurants and more states open up full,” he said. “But right now, we know we are good through the month of June.”

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

In other business:

The Alcona Board of Commissioners on Wednesday also

∫ agreed to allow all county staff to return to work on Tuesday although the building remains closed to the public, as recommended by the board’s personnel committee. Employees who cannot return to the office can use their vacation or sick time, Commissioner Carolyn Brummond said.

Brummond said the only exception is the MSU Extension office, where staff will not be returning to work because officials with MSU Extension have instructed staff to remain home.

∫ Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Dan O’Connor said the district received stimulus funding that will provide every K-12 student with technology.

The district will also get 150 mobile hotspots by next fall, so every student in the district has access to the internet

“We’ll have enough devices and internet to equip everybody with better access than we (had) this spring,” he said.

∫ Staff and inmates at the Alcona County Jail will be tested for coronavirus next week, Sheriff Scott Stephenson said. The National Guard provided the department with 25 test kits.

“I don’t know we really have any concerns that anybody is going to test positive, but I think it’s just to get a baseline for how many inmates around the State of Michigan in state and county custody might be infected,” he said.

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