By Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
11:42 PM CST, November 16, 2012
The Dolly Madison Bakery in Emporia is the city's 2nd largest employer. The city manager says Emporia doesn't have enough open jobs to absorb all 500 displaced workers.
While the city tries to find another buyer for the plant, local agencies are preparing to help more families in need.
"I am so thrilled we are going to be able to serve people," said Salvation Army Lieutenant Lynn S. Lopez.
Shelves at the Salvation Army's food pantry in Emporia are full. A donation drive last week brought in more than expected. Now, it may not be enough to last the winter because of the bakery shut down.
"We are going to see very shortly a great influx of people coming for food, for utilities, for rent, for Christmas," Lopez said
Lopez prayed with Dolly Madison workers Friday morning on the picket line, and she heard their fears for the future.
"One man said his son was crying and said how are we going to pay our bills dad," Lopez said. "To have a little child ask you that, that has to be heartbreaking."
But this industrial town has seen heartbreak before.
"We are very resilient," said Emporia City Manager Matthew Zimmerman. "We have always bounced back, we bounced back after the 1500 job layoff at Tyson."
That layoff happened in 2008. Since then, Tyson has hired back 500 people and at a high salary. City leaders are hoping the same thing will happen with the Dolly Madison plant.
"We have a very strong workforce, and I really think long term we will be able to absorb this and grow this back," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully another production company will see this as a benefit."
Zimmerman says the city has incentive packages ready to help any new company move to town. In the short term, he will be meeting with state and federal agencies in the coming days to get some help for the 500 Dolly Madison workers who are now out of a job.
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