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Outreach center keeps up with the times

WEVERTOWN - With local residents falling ever farther behind under the strain of a floundering national economy, the North Country Outreach Center is working to expand its accessibility even further. And, in so doing, expanding access to necessary resources for local residents.

"We are working on changing the food pantry model as we speak," NCOC General Manager Andrea Hogan said recently. "People will be able to basically shop within a set of guidelines - we are trying to provide a truly dignified experience."

The outreach center is an institution dedicated to providing local solutions to issues like poverty and community health. The food pantry - one of the centers primary facilities - is expanding its hours and constantly evolving to better serve those most in need.

"Our sense is that in our community a lot of people have only been marginally making it for a long time," Hogan said. "Many people find it difficult to ask for help and they continue to fall farther behind."

On June 9, the NCOC food pantry will double the pantry's operational hours.

The pantry is open on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. The additional evening hours will accommodate an even greater percentage of the working poor.

"In addition to the change in hours, a new setup which creates the opportunity for people to do more of their own selection will be used," NCOC Director Anita Abrams said this week.

In an effort to combat local hunger at an even grander scale, the center has teamed up with Warren County to increase access to state and federal food assistance programming.

"Contrary to common belief, the Food Stamp program is not welfare," Abrams said. "With the current economic problems, more people - including some working families - may be in need of this assistance."

As of early July, residents will be able to apply for food assistance at the center, officials said.

The center also offers such public wellness and access programming as yoga, computer access and financial counseling.

Anyone who would like to learn more about the programming available through the NCOC can call 251 -3481.

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