By Mark Waite
Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen Tuesday balked at applying for a $32,400 State Fund for a Healthy Nevada grant that would fund a food bank and provide a monthly grocery voucher to low income, disabled adults at the Nye County Department of Health and Human Services.
The grant, administered through the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, wouldn’t require a county match. Schinhofen cast the sole vote against the application. Individuals would be screened for other programs they may be entitled to, including food stamps, Medicaid and state energy assistance.
Schinhofen has brandished his Libertarian credentials in opposing government aid for various functions in the past. Ironically, the first-term commissioner lists income from Social Security Insurance Disability SSI on his financial disclosure form with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office along with his $26,000 annual salary as county commissioner and income from the Rio Hotel and Casino.
“It does not specify you have to be a citizen to receive these benefits. The other thing with these benefits, it’s for disabled people to set up a food bank and give out food vouchers. It says in the backup there’s eight food banks already in Pahrump and two in Tonopah,” Schinhofen said.
“I just don’t see the need for the county to be in this business also. I know it’s going to be characterized as I hate disabled people and poor people, but that’s not the point. It goes back to, if you have trouble, family, faith and friends are who you go to, not the government,” he said.
Nye County Manager Pam Webster said the Nye County Health and Human Services Department already stocks a food bank in the office. There’s space for the county HHS food bank in the new building opening on the Calvada Eye, she said.
Nye County Commissioner Butch Borasky, who sits on the NyE Communities Coalition board, fired back at Schinhofen:
“I do not see his rear end in a seat over at our community outreach meetings at Oasis Outreach . There’s a lot of folks in town who rely on every scrap of food they can get. You can say what you like about being a citizen or not, when people are starving here it’s our obligation as citizens and community leaders to make sure they get fed.”
Schinhofen replied: “I don’t think it’s the government’s place to feed people.”
An executive summary of the application states Nye County has the highest food insecurity rate in Nevada at 19.8 percent. That is defined as someone who doesn’t know where they’ll find their next meal.
According to the Center for Personal Assistance Services, 5.5 percent of the county population from 16 to 64 years old is disabled and needs personal care assistance, a rate more than twice the statewide percentage.
The program would allow disabled adults who have an income less than 230 percent of the poverty level to receive $50 worth of food monthly and a $40 grocery voucher.