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Agency that feeds hungry opens new location

By Sonny Long
July 13, 2011 at 2:13 a.m.
Updated July 14, 2011 at 2:14 a.m.

VCAM volunteer Fred Lagrega gives a big hug to a client picking up a box of food at the Victoria Christian Assistance Ministry

HOW TO HELPVictoria Christian Assistance Ministry accepts monetary contributions as well as donations of non-perishable food items and clothing.

Monetary donations are needed at this time for the agency's building program that will make needed improvements at its new location.

Food items in short supply include canned vegetables, pinto beans and peanut butter.

Volunteers are also always needed.

The office is open from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.

Call 361-572-0048 to learn more.

Pat Mireles leaned over the bed of his beat-up, brown pickup, wedging the small box of food among a pile of aluminum cans he had picked up earlier.

"I'm on Social Security, so by the time I pay rent, pay bills and get my medication, I'm pretty much tapped out," he said. "VCAM helps."

Victoria Christian Assistance Ministry has helped the needy in Victoria since 1986, mostly through its food program.

The nonprofit agency recently moved to 108 N. Liberty St. in downtown Victoria. The new location, a former car dealership among other businesses, seems ideal for assistance agency.

"It is set up as though it were meant for this program of providing to families and individuals in need," said executive director Kim Ozment-Gold. "It is easily accessed by clients, volunteers, staff and visitors.

"Our waiting area can seat many without anyone waiting on the porch like at the previous location. Our volunteers have plenty of room to greet clients, make-up boxes and bags for distribution, stock shelves, distribute the food and visit."

The new location includes a climate-controlled warehouse and a separate room for storing hygiene products and for the clothing program. The clothing program room, a metal building attached to the rear of the building, needs insulation and the agency workers hope to address that need, in part, through its building fund, said Ozment-Gold.

The clothing program is expected to begin on Aug. 1.

The new location also has more room for clerical activities as well as space for one-on-one consultation with clients.

"The clients come in and tell us this is so much nicer," Ozment-Gold said of the new location. "There is more a feeling of community here. It's a small community within the community, and anyone who steps through the doors is welcome here."

VCAM's main focus is the supplemental food assistance program. Most of the food it receives is purchased from the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent at 19 cents per pound.

"We also now have the ability to store more food," said Ozment-Gold. "We are able to give out a greater variety of nutritional foods."

The ministry's clients are determined by poverty level criteria and the Texas Commodity Assistance Program guidelines.

In 2010, the agency served about 12,000 people. Clients receive food once a month.

"Our clients are living on tight incomes and are in pretty bad situations," Ozment-Gold said.

An open house for the new location and celebration of the agency's 25th year will be held later this fall.

"The event also will serve as a fundraiser for our building fund. This building is a blessing, but we still owe on it, of course," said the executive director.

The agency's former location at 401 E. Juan Linn St. is also for sale.

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