Hundreds of people in one of Missouri's poorest counties depend on a food pantry that is in danger of running out of food because of a transportation crisis.
The Benton County Food Pantry's truck broke down on the way back from a pick up from a food bank in Columbia. They rely on the Columbia Food Bank for 95 percent of the food they give to families. Without the truck, they said they can't bring tens of thousands of pounds of food to those who need it.
Doug Ames is one of 1,100 people who rely on the food bank. About 30 to 40 percent of those people are senior citizens.
"I was homeless, I came here to get food," Ames said.
He is not only a client, but also a volunteer.
"I volunteer because you only get what you get back," Ames said.
Soon there could no longer be food to give because the Benton County Food Bank's truck sits broken in their back lot and it's costly to fix.
"Our truck broke down. It threw a rod and the motor went out. We rely on the food bank for 95 percent of our food," Food Pantry Manager Debbie Swerline said.
The nonprofit organization runs on donations and grant money. Everyone who works there is an unpaid volunteer and the pantry has just enough to cover monthly expenses.
"Everything is accounted for, we just don't have enough in the budget to handle major expenses," Swerline said.
Benton County is seeing help from the Columbia Food Bank.
"We bring back 21,000 pounds of food. There is no way they can deliver every week to us," Swerline said. "They'll do all they can to help but we are looking for a long-term solution. We need to get our truck fixed."
Which is why the food pantry is asking for more help because, without transportation, food can't make it to the shelves.
"Please, please it would be very helpful, very beneficial to me and other families," Ames said.
Swerline said they would appreciate any donations to help them make the needed repairs.
"It would be a true miracle. We won't have to worry from month to month," she said.
The pantry manager said they believe it will cost $7,000 to fix the truck. They are asking anyone who could help to contact the Benton County Food Bank at 660-428-3500. The Farmer's Bank in Warsaw is also accepting donations.
A viewer saw the story on KCTV5 It's Your Morning and contacted us, saying someone with Diamond International Trucks may be able to help. The company's vice president agreed to loan a brand new truck to Benton County Food Pantry for a couple of weeks as well as look into a way they can get the broken truck towed to Kansas City for repairs for free.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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