Agency Spotlight of the Month: Western Community Action

January 31, 2014 By: Sara Blair Category: WordPress Import

Margaret Palan, Community Resource Coordinator for Western Community Action (WCA), knows the difference a friendly voice can make to someone who’s hungry.

“This is personal for me,” Margaret said. “I visit senior apartments, community and senior dining sites, engaging people in conversations to tell them the many ways they can access food programs. This helps people feel comfortable getting past the stigma of asking for help. I always like to mention that federal dollars such as the Farm Bill help fund some of these programs. Somehow they feel better about accepting the help after learning where the funds come from.”

Margaret’s role is to refer people—many of them seniors, who are making do on small social security payments while living on their farms—to food shelves, community dinners and other resources such as SNAP (food stamps) and commodity distributions that can help bridge the gap when resources get tight. “Seniors who live in our rural area would rather ‘make something out of nothing’ than be a burden on anyone,” Margaret said.

WCA is responsible for four food shelves (Marshall, Tracy, Westbrook and Heron Lake) that serve five counties in western Minnesota. WCA food shelves distributed nearly 723,000 pounds to their clients this past year. Poundage includes product ordered through Second Harvest Heartland, rescue food program with local markets, and local food drives.

While the needs of the many communities WCA serves vary from one location to the next, a consistent focus for every community includes meeting basic needs of food and clothing. Dedicated volunteers are critical in all areas that allow WCA to continue to serve clients.

“We help one person at a time, and assure them that they don’t have to be hungry,” Margaret said. “We are here to teach, provide opportunities, tools and hope as a pathway out of poverty.”


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