Food Pantry Closes
By Karen Nakamura
"To all our "Pantry" friends, good-bye. We are going to miss seeing you all and keeping up on your very interesting lives. We hope things turn out well for everyone. Please stay in touch, (Community Action Marin), we'll always be here. Let us know how you're doing-over the years we've had some great exchange of ideas (and recipes). With our affection and also hope for your health, Bye or See You Later, Carol, Shelley and Rita"
On July 1, with this simple but poignant note placed in grocery bags and handed out to friends, Community Action Marin closed its Food Pantry doors. Not only did the long standing non-profit suffer the loss of its free food support system for HIV/AID patients, it also lost its funding of its distribution system for emergency fund assistance to the same base. Acupuncture services have been retained through other groups.
All is not lost for the needy however. The Marin Community Food Bank will now service recipients of the Pantry's grocery bags. For years, the Food Bank has been there for needy residents others those with HIV/AIDS and from every indication has been doing a good job.
Emergency fund assistance and the pharmaceutical fund have also been transferred from Community Action Marin and will be handled by the Marin AIDS Project (MAP) as will transportation services including bus tickets to San Francisco for medical appointments.
There will be two new services; mental health and dental care. There will no longer be a lifetime $1000 limit for dental care. As of the first of July there will be a $500 annual limit for qualified persons, a vast improvement. The funds will be managed by MAP and conducted by the Marin County Dental Clinic.
All of this rearranging comes from changes made by the County to bring its share of Ryan White AIDS funding into compliance with Title I & II services and funding. This change towards compliance was also responsible for the demise of the Marin AIDS Commission (MAC) last year as reported on extensively in this paper.
As the above indicates, the vibrant and often feisty Marin HIV/AIDS community has seen enormous changes since the restructuring of MAC, the community's voice in funding matters. Many former MAC members have worried that the county's firm hand will stifle the views of the community. However, a new needs survey was conducted recently among clients. The results haven't been announced.
The new Marin HIV/AIDS Health Services Planning Council was formed with MAC's demise and operates under the auspices of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services. The CARE Act requires that the council reflect the community it serves by including 51% of members to have HIV/AIDS and at least 33% of its membership must be consumers of services and not affiliated with any agency funded by Title I & II funding.
The Planning Council's website doesn't list members so it was difficult to discover whether this was true. They have been following the guidelines set before them and the changes are being felt.
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