Lindsay food bank may become homeless
By Reggie Ellis
lindsay – The organization dedicated to helping Lindsay’s homeless may become homeless itself. On April 10, the Lindsay Strathmore Coordinating Council (LSCC) was notified that the building the non-profit has been renting for the past four decades had been sold and that LSCC would need to vacate the building by June 10, 2017 to make way for the new owners.
LSCC executive director Sallie McDonald said the building had been on the market for several years so she was not surprised by the announcement. What did surprise her was the condition of buildings that could provide the food bank and thrift store with a new location. McDonald said she has been working closely with City Manager Bill Zigler to find a location that had a large enough space and low enough rent to accommodate the non-profit. She said the building must be large enough to store pallets of food, fit two commercial-size freezers, a refrigerator, and provide access for forklift unloading as well as a retail space to operate the thrift store.
She said several of the vacant buildings needed new roofs, some flood when it rains and others should be condemned, but she declined to name the addresses of the properties for fear of embarrassing the owners.“Every building that we talked about needed repairs and expensive repairs,” McDonald said. “That’s not something we can afford. We would have to move into a building that didn’t need any major repairs.”
McDonald said she thought briefly about moving out of town but quickly dismissed the idea because too many homeless, elderly and low-income residents would not have the transportation to leave town. McDonald said LSCC helps feed about 300 families per month or more than 800 people in Lindsay. LSCC also buys its own food to feed the homeless people who walk into the thrift store for food, shelter and just human interaction on a daily basis.
“If this closes I would feel so bad for the people here who need it,” McDonald said. “We have seniors who come in once a week to get food. I don’t know what they would do if we weren’t here.”
In Tulare County, 29% of children and 10% of adults deal with food insecurity, defined as not having consistent, dependable access to enough food for an active, healthy living, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which is 9% higher than the rest of the country. About 17,000 children go hungry each day in Tulare County, according to the Women’s Economic Agenda Project (WEAP), which claims that 27% of children who are eligible for school lunch programs in Tulare County and don’t receive it.
The building, located at 189 N. Elmwood Ave. in Lindsay, was purchased by the Lindsay Redevelopment Agency decades ago to provide a home for the LSCC, a food bank formed by a group of local churches in 1979. When the Governor issued an order dissolving redevelopment agencies in 2012, the property was transferred to its successor agency, the City of Lindsay, on the condition that the sale of the property would be used to pay back money the former redevelopment agency owed the State.
The building sold earlier this year to the owners of Joyeria el Dorado, the jewelry store located in the Olivewood Shopping Center off Highway 65. McDonald said she is hoping the new owners will give her an extension to continue looking for a new location or buy her time to raise the needed funds to repair vacant buildings in the downtown area. Anyone wanting to donate to the LSCC can make checks payable to Lindsay Strathmore Coordinating Council, 189 N. Elmwood Ave., Lindsay, CA 93247 and specify the donation should be used to make needed repairs for the organization’s new home.
“If we don’t do something soon, we are going to be homeless,” McDonald said.