The immediate need was emergency food assistance and now the next phase is offering additional food and housing assistance, he said.
Clay Nelson, Brown County welfare director, said laid-off beef plant workers have sought county assistance. Most of the requests have been for rent or utility assistance.
Some of the applicants have qualified and others have not. Those applying must bring in a driver's license, Social Security card, pay stubs and any immigration documentation, such as a green card, which proves permanent residency status.
A person must be a legal resident to receive assistance, Nelson said. The person also agrees to pay the assistance back when they are able, he said.
"We are taking more applications than we normally do, but right now, we are doing OK," he said. "It has been pretty steady. We are not overwhelmed."
Womack said that the laid-off workers come from a variety of backgrounds. There are people from Africa, Asia, Spanish-speaking countries and native South Dakotans.
"Regardless of their ethnicity, they want to work," Womack said. "Most of them moved to Aberdeen specifically for a job. I can't emphasize that enough that they would rather be working than asking for assistance."
Those making requests are often hesitant to do so, he said.
"They will say, 'I didn't want to come here,' 'I didn't want to ask but I need some help for my family,’ ” Womack said. "The Salvation Army don't see it as a handout, but as the cliché goes, a hand-up. It is temporary help to get them through a tough time."
It is still too early to tell how the layoff will play out, he said.
"Some of the workers we have talked to already have a new job," Womack said. "Some workers are planning to leave the area and others want to stay here and look for a job."
Womack said the Salvation Army has given boxes of food to about 100 former Northern Beef Packers workers and their families.
The agency has already distributed about half of its housing assistance budget for August, he said. More people are eating the free noon meal at the Salvation Army Kitchen at 1025 Sixth Ave. S.W. Usually at this time of year, the agency serves about 40 people a day and that has increased to 60 to 65 a day.
"One of the main reasons these people are in need is that they had not been paid for three weeks going into the layoff," Womack said. "Now it will be another one to three weeks before they get unemployment compensation or their first paycheck at another job."
The Salvation Army was better prepared to handle emergency requests after the layoffs because of a large food donation from Kessler's Food and Liquor. Kessler's had sent over a truck with 35,000 pounds of food and grocery store items earlier this summer as the result of a stuff-a-truck food drive.
"I am so glad we had that food," Womack said. "The timing of it was perfect."
Amber Brockel, a Salvation Army case worker, said that the clients she talks to all want to work. Many are looking for jobs that pay $10 an hour or more so they can support themselves and their families, she said. For some, language barriers may interfere with getting service jobs that require good English skills, she said.
While there are many ethnicities represented, the largest group is from Spanish-speaking countries, Womack said. Some of the Hispanic workers have good English skills while others have limited English, he said.
One group of laid-off employees who have not used the Salvation Army services much, if it all, are the Karen refugees from Myanmar, Womack said. That may be because of their strong family support network and because they have a strong home base in Huron, he said.