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Funding for food pantries eliminated

The Senior Center of Boulder City is expected to close its food pantry after the state Health and Human Services Department failed to fund it for the next two years.

Senior center Executive Director Ann Barron said the pantry is likely to close by the end of June.

For the past two years, the center split a $90,000 state-funded grant with Emergency Aid of Boulder City.

Marylyn Phillips, president of Emergency Aid, said the organization will continue to operate but the loss of funding will mean there will be less food on the shelves.

Barron said eight agencies statewide applied for funding but only five were approved. Of the $2.5 million in grants, less than 30 percent was designated for Clark County. Nye County, Elko and Reno all received increases in funding, in some cases doubling or tripling the amount from the previous grant period, she said.

Barron said the senior center requested $123,000, with 67 percent covering food for the pantry. She said the state required each agency to budget a minimum of 50 percent for food.

Barron said the state used a score evaluation to determine which agencies would receive money, but added that funding wasn’t based on scores alone.

“I have never witnessed a grant program that went solely on scores. They funded the highest (applicants) until they ran out of money,” she said.

Laurie Olson of the Health and Human Services’ chief grant management unit said the senior center scored 67 out of 100, the lowest of all the applicants. Barron said she thinks it’s because the state believed that it only served one demographic.

“I think it’s very clear that this wasn’t all coming to the senior center,” she said.

Barron added that one applicant that received funding only budgeted 39 percent for food, 11 percent short of the minimum requirement.

Helping Hands of Vegas Valley also had its application denied, as did Catholic Charities in Clark County.

Don Sansouci, president of the senior center’s board of directors, said the state department appeared to be biased against Boulder City when it made its recommendation to not fund the pantry.

“It’s tough to see them give us the funds to start the program, but not to extend it,” Sansouci said.

The department still has about $128,000 to allocate, and Sansouci said the center will do what it can to get any sort of compensation.

“I’m in hopes that word will get back to the department head that they’ll make some changes, and maybe fund us even partially with some of the money they’re sitting on,” he said. “It’s grim.”

The food pantry coordinator is expected to be laid off June 19.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.

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