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The majority of services provided by Community Services Consortium goes to Linn County residents, Commissioners John Lindsey and Will Tucker were told Tuesday morning.

Board chairman Roger Nyquist was in Salem at a Legislative hearing.

CSC executive director Martha Lyon told the commissioners the budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year will be down 5 percent to $22.7 million. CSC serves low-income households in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.

“About 60 percent of our total expenditures go to Linn County residents,” Lyon said. “The remaining 40 percent is split between Benton and Lincoln counties.”

About 36,000 food boxes go to Linn and 15,000 to Benton.

Linn residents account for about 60 percent of the weatherization program projects and 61 percent of low-income assistance. Workforce development is split along the same lines.

“A great deal of our resources come back to Linn County,” Lyon said. “We are proud that our three county alliance allows us to respond to poverty where it occurs the most, and that is in Linn County.”

Lyon said the successful Linn Benton Food Share program plans to expand its warehouse near Tangent in the coming year to accommodate the increase in bulk food items stored there.

“The warehouse was constructed in the 1990s and it’s at a good location to serve both Linn and Benton counties,” Lyon said. “Our needs have changed over the last 20 years. We used to take in a lot of canned or bottled items. Now, we are getting a lot of cash donations and with those funds, we are able to buy fresh products for 11 to 20 percents per pound. It is higher in protein.”

Lyon said the philosophy has gone from stocking anything available on the warehouse shelves to “trying to produce higher protein foods and fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Lyon said CSC is also contracting with area farmers to grow crops for distribution.

“The food will be much fresher because it will locally grown,” Lyon said.

According to the Linn Benton Food Share newsletter, the organization distributed 5,325,088 pounds of food through 74 member agencies in the 2014-15 fiscal year; shared 52,051 food boxes in the two counties and provided food to soup kitchens and shelters that served 272,075 meals. 

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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