Budget cuts and a downturn in donations have prompted the Salvation Army Center in Brownwood to serve sack lunches rather than hot meals on Tuesdays and Thursday as of April 8.

Hot meals are still being served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The center is trying the reduced services for 60 to 90 days to see if it saves money, Salvation Army Brownwood director Stacy Tennison said.

“Basically we’ve had some budget cuts,” Tennison said. “Overall donations are down so we’re cutting staff hours and then trying to save some costs, but still meet the needs of our clients.”

Tennison said rather than downsizing, she’s using the term “right-sizing for our current budget.”

Tennison said she was, at first, disappointed that the cutbacks were necessary. “After looking into it, we’re just grateful that we don’t have to close, that we’re still able to meet the needs of our clients,” Tennison said.

The alternative to cutting back to sack lunches two days a week “would have been to close for a day or two,” Tennision said.

The Salvation Army had been providing free, hot meals to more than 100 people a day, five days a week, to those in need in Brownwood, the Salvation Army Brownwood said in a press release.

The Salvation Army remains committed to providing daily meals to all who come, the release said.

Each sack lunch consists of a sandwich, fruit, chips, dessert and water, Tennison said.

“The meals will still be provided free of charge and we are confident that this adjustment will help us find a balance between saving some money and still serving the needs of our community,” Tennison said. “That remans our primary concern.”

Volunteers are always welcome and very much needed at the Salvation Army, the release states. The changes in meal service will help ease the current demands on the staff and volunteers.

“We were so excited to have so many people come out at Christmastime to volunteer and ring the bell for the Salvation Army,” Tennison said. “I want to get the message out to our community that we have volunteer opportunities all year-round, not just at Christmas, for them to give back and make a difference in the lives of their neighbors.

“Even if you can only give an hour or two a couple of times a week, we can put you to work.”

It is often said that volunteers are “the Army behind the Army.”

More than 3 million people volunteer with the Salvation

Army annually in the nation. These volunteers make it possible for the organization to provide 55 million hot meals a year, serve more than 275,000 people affected by natural disasters, deliver Christmas assistance to 3.2 million people and give 232,700 children the experience of attending summer camp.

For more information about the Salvation Army, its programs and volunteer opportunities, contact Stacy Tennison at (325) 646-5369 or stop by at 402 Lakeway Drive. To make a financial donation to support the local

programs of the Salvation Army go to www.salvationarmytexas.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.