GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve supplying food to the community through 10 churches and nonprofits scattered through the county.

CARES Grant Feeding the Community will start Feb. 1, and include 10 biweekly distributions on Saturdays. Churches and nonprofits in High Point include Calvary Baptist Church, Open Door Ministries and Second Harvest Food Pantry, which serves High Point and Greensboro.

Commissioners James Upchurch and Justin Conrad were asked to consult with Vice Chair Carlvena Foster to consider another church possibly located in the Colfax or Sandy Ridge areas near High Point.

The money comes from the county’s allotment of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding.

The other churches include First Baptist Church on Friendly Avenue, Lawndale Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Church, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church and St. James Baptist Church

These groups were chosen because they are experienced in and have been successful with larger food distribution efforts, said Commissioner Carolyn Coleman. Each distribution site would give out 500 boxes of food with a 10 bi-weekly total distribution of 5,000 boxes at a total cost of more than $268,500.

Each box will include two chickens and 4 to 5 pounds of hamburger meat along with an assortment of vegetables, nonperishable food and freezer bags.

“We expect that this would carry most people through the winter,” Coleman said.

In response to Conrad’s question about whether the meat suppliers committed to the proposed cost in written form, Coleman said the county has been working with the meat-packing companies for about six months now and she feels confident in the cost estimates.

In a related COVID-19 update, the board directed county staff to proceed with a $5 million program to provide rental and utility assistance.

To be eligible for up to $3,000 per family from the county’s CARES Act rental/utilities grant, a Guilford County resident would have to show the following:

• Job loss or wage reduction as a result of COVID-19

• Illness related to COVID-19

• Proof of identity

• Rent, mortgage and utility payments current prior to the pandemic

Social Services Director Heather Skeens said she learned earlier Thursday that the county may have an opportunity to receive more funding from the U.S. Treasury based on population numbers. The county completed an application for that federal funding and Skeens said she believes it will be able to alleviate evictions through the combined programs.

Coleman expressed concerns about the county being able to help people who can’t pay their mortgages as well as rental tenants.

“We will end up with people being evicted and what will happen to those people then? Ultimately, we want to keep people from becoming homeless,” Coleman said.

Upchurch agreed. He noted a possible three-week gap for individuals to be able to receive help through the federal program and that it does not cover mortgage assistance. Rather than waiting to see what the county may get from the federal government, he urged the board to go ahead with the county program.

“I don’t want to delay something and put families on the street if we don’t have to,” Upchurch said.

Chairman Skip Alston noted the current state and federal moratoriums on evictions were extended until Jan. 31

The board also approved opening up $200,000 more in CARES funds for arts and cultural groups, extending the deadline to Jan. 20 to allow more smaller organizations to apply. Commissioner Kay Cashion urged the board to help the arts groups, which she considers economic development drivers.

“The arts are the soul of our community and we want to keep them alive,” Cashion said.

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