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Homeless Shelter learns of IRS Restriction - KOAM TV 7

Homeless Shelter learns of IRS Restriction

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

A local homeless shelter learns of federal regulations that limit where the shelter can get food  -- and it comes at a pretty bad time. 

John Losa has been coming to Watered Gardens for over fifteen years. 

John Losa, Homeless: "It's a good place to come to, come to church here, come to work here, volunteer here. I love this place man." 

Losa is one of fifty-four-thousand people Watered Gardens provides meals for every year. 
That's over three-hundred families a month - and the shelter says that number grows over the summer. 

James Whitford, Executive Director of Watered Gardens: "As our food pantry need has grown, we've begun to reach out to other places to find help with filling our food pantry. And that's how we came across this particular restriction."

That restriction is IRS law IRC e(3). 
One requirement under the regulation states "Donated property cannot be transferred by the donee in exchange for money, other property, or services." 

This means that Watered Gardens cannot receive food from federally regulated food banks or other organizations because they require people to work an hour a week before they receive a food box.

Whitford:"We were saddened to find out that we were restricted in being able to receive some food from some organizations because of that restriction. Doesn't make any sense to use whenever we want to make sure we are empowering people, and not trapping them in dependency."

Travis Hurley, Director of Advancement at Watered Gardens: "We're not just looking for how many meals are served how many food boxes are given, but how many lives are changed as a result.

Hurley says the choice was easy when it came down to either changing their policies or gaining access to food banks.

Hurley:"We think it's important that there is an option in Joplin for someone who wants to work for their food, they can do it."

That's an option Losa says he's on-board with. 

Losa:" It makes me feel more responsible for myself instead of getting a hand out, I'm working for something, ya know." 

The shelter also says they do not want government subsidies. 

The mission is holding a food drive until the end of the month to collect food for the summer.

Donations can be dropped of at the shelter at 531 Kentucky Ave, Joplin, MO 64801.

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