MIDLOTHIAN (CBSDFW.COM) – At 88 years of age, Sard McClendon still volunteers, but his effort today is not something he wanted to do.
“I don’t blame the school. They’ve been good to us,” McClendon said while filling a freezer up with donated meat and cheeses. McClendon was referring to the Midlothian Independent School District, while he assisted other volunteers transfer food items from the now-closed Senior Citizens Food Pantry, housed on a former Midlothian ISD campus.
For more than 20 years, the food pantry has provided groceries for Midlothian Senior Citizens, regardless of their ability to pay for the items.
“When I moved here (Midlothian), two seniors were eating cat food,” pantry director Victoria Massey recounted, while standing outside the school that housed the pantry for the past seven years.
Wednesday became moving day for the pantry operation. The school district informed pantry operators that the school space could no longer be used without proper rental payment. The Senior Citizens Food Pantry did not pay rent for the right to use school facilities. The deadline for removal came Wednesday.
Massey worked with an assortment of volunteers and Midlothian residents to find temporary storage for the items used to feed 400 senior citizens.
“I just need a building we can stay in and live forever, and take care of 444 seniors,” Massey said.
Officials with Midlothian ISD acknowledged the district was out of compliance with its own policies for facility rentals. Based on district regulations, the Food Pantry would be required to pay $800 a week for rent. School district analysts added up yearly costs to 41,000.
68-year old Marilyn Biggs depended on the pantry to feed herself, husband and two great-grandchildren for whom they now provide care. She said there are others who rely on the pantry weekly.
“We’re on social security. It came a time when we had to come. We needed it,” said Biggs.
The West Ellis County United Way issued a statement detailing other Midlothian community partners who assist seniors, including the Meals on Wheels program.
Vicky Massey says she hopes to find a new home for the pantry within the month.
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