LiftUp expands eligibility criteria so more people in need can get assistance
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — More people in Routt County will now able to get help with their groceries, utility bills and housing, thanks to a change in eligibility guidelines for resources available through LiftUp of Routt County.
“We really wanted to address the fact that the income level just to subsist in Routt County is higher than most other places,” said LiftUp Executive Director Sue Fegelein.
Fegelein explained there are many residents who are making too much to receive government assistance but not enough to always pay their bills.
“The first thing to go is usually food,” Fegelein said.
That’s why LiftUp has increased the gross monthly income guideline for one person from $2,602 to $3,123, while a family of four can now receive food or financial assistance if they earn up to $6,438 a month instead of the previous cap of $5,365.
Angela Mackey oversees LiftUp case managers who work first-hand with residents in need.
“Our main financial assistance has been toward rent or mortgage payments because of emergencies that have happened — like being injured on the job or a sickness that runs too long,” Mackey said.
LiftUp, which runs a food bank and popular thrift store, is a Judeo-Christian ministry that offers private support for Routt County citizens who aim to become self-sufficient.
Accessing the food bank is relatively easy for Routt County residents since LiftUp operates storefronts in Hayden, Oak Creek and Steamboat Springs.
Registering with the food bank requires an ID and proof of Routt County residency.
“All income is self-reported,” says Food Bank Manager Russell Goodman.
Points are then allotted for shopping.
Goodman also said there’s a walk-in section at the front of all the LiftUp Food Banks for anyone needing food.
“Anyone can come in and get what they need — no application for this section,” said Goodman, pointing to refrigerated milk, snacks, fruits and menu items from several restaurants that donate their extra food.
Financial assistance for utilities or housing is done separately, where proof of wages must be verified.
LiftUp also offers a summer lunch program for children birth to 18.
“Parents and guardians can register the kids, and once a week, they come and pick up enough food to feed their kids for a week at a time,” Fegelein said. “We can also take lunches to our satellite food banks” in Hayden and Oak Creek.
LiftUp serves about 10 percent of Routt County residents every year through their food pantries and emergency financial assistance for housing, utilities, transportation and medical costs.
Now that the nonprofit has expanded eligibility, it hopes to spread the word that more people can get the help they need.
Meanwhile, LiftUp also runs the publicly-funded TEFAP — The Emergency Food Assistance Program — in Routt County as well as the federal food program — Senior Boxes — for seniors.
Visit http://www.liftuprc.org or call 970-870-8804 for more information on any of the nonprofit’s programs.
Fegelein also reminds area residents that donating clothing and other items to LiftUp and shopping in the LiftUp Thrift Store directly helps local families. The Thrift Store is LiftUp’s main source of funding in addition to donations, grants and food drives, which help fill in the financial gaps.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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