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Morgan contemplates food pantry management change

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While some say Morgan residents can’t get tax write offs for their charitable donations to the Morgan County Food Pantry, others say a short-term fix to that would discourage use of the community services.

Since the food pantry is not an official 501(c)(3), or nonprofit organization as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, contributions to it cannot be deducted on income taxes, Morgan County Chairwoman Tina Cannon said. 

To fix that, Morgan considered operating under the umbrella of Davis County’s nonprofit, the Family Connection Center.  It would be a temporary fix if Morgan were to pursue their own 501(c)(3) designation, an “onerous” process that could take up to three years, Cannon said.

“We could provide oversight of the food pantry here, and general oversight in terms of process,” said FCC’s Jason Wilde.  “We would not restaff.”

There is also a question of whether Morgan County can use taxpayer funds to pay a person to oversee a charitable organization. 

However, Morgan County Attorney Jann Farris discouraged the Morgan County Council from pursuing a 501(c)(3) designation.

“Morgan is a very giving community as a whole,” Councilman Austin Turner said.  The food pantry has helped Morgan residents in need pay for utility and rent when they are down on their luck, but “we don’t have chronic abusers of the system.”

Turner also said the food pantry doesn’t have a difficult time determining who to extend aid to, because there has always been enough donations to meet demand.  In fact, sometimes the Morgan food bank passes their donations on to the Utah Food Bank “because the people in Morgan are so generous.”

People come from parts of Summit County to use the Morgan food bank, Turner said. 

Turner was pleased that the food pantry could provide around 20 Morgan families with coats, shoes, food and toys at Christmas.

“The food pantry is doing amazingly well, because of Julie and also the amount of donations people are willing to give,” Turner said.  “When you get down on your luck, are between jobs, and your paycheck doesn’t cover the rent, we can step in and help.  If you need stee-toed boots, we can help.”

Miller said the food pantry has also helped parents buy school supplies for their children. 

In the past, Morgan residents have offered to donate a vehicle to families in need of transportation for employment purposes.  But when that car was donated, the county didn’t have a way to give that donor a receipt that would allow them to claim it as a tax write-off.

But Morgan Food Pantry Director Julie Miller, who is a contract employee with the county, said she has never had a donor ask for a receipt for tax write-off purposes.  In fact, if the food pantry were to be associated with an organization outside the county, like Davis’s FCC, she thinks it would discourage use of the Morgan facility.

“We need to work for the people, continue to take care of their needs, and make it accessible,” Miller said.  “I am amazed at what the need is.”

Turner agreed.

“The fear is going to be: if we donate to Davis County, they will send the money there,” not here in Morgan.

Cannon said that this fear can be addressed in an operating agreement between Morgan and Davis FCC that calls for the careful account of all money, so that anything donated in Morgan stays in Morgan. 

“This is not discontinuing the process at all.  This is not an elimination of services, or a change of the guard in the office at all,” Cannon said.  “It is just an oversight of funding.”

The Morgan County Council voted not to put Morgan’s food pantry under the FCC’s charitable umbrella for the time being.  In the meantime, council members will research the issue of taxpayer money being used to pay an employee to oversee a charitable organization. 

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