August 21, 2019In 2018, the Lincoln Hills United Methodist Church food pantry helped more than 6,000 people. Wanting to put itself in position to serve the Crawford County community for years to come, the English church is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony and fundraiser for a dedicated facility on Saturday, Aug. 31.
Since the food pantry opened in 2012, it has operated from the basement and garage of the parsonage north of the church. While the church's pastors haven't lived in the house during that time, there has been concern about what would happen if a future pastor were to move into the parsonage. Therefore, this past spring, the church's administrative council approved plans for a standalone food pantry on the property.
Plans call for the 56-foot-by-32-foot building to be constructed in three phases. Phase one, at a cost of $12,000, calls for the completion of ground work, plumbing and concrete for the entryway, while phase two is the actual construction of the building, rafters, walls and doors and will cost $24,000. The final phase will cost $17,000 and will finish the interior with a handicapped-accessible rest room, wiring, lighting, plumbing, fixtures, ceiling fans and a septic system.
"This is quite a project," Kay Ellis, a member of the food pantry committee, said.
To date, the church has received donations totaling $22,000 for the project.
"We've got enough to do phase one," Mary Crecelius, coordinator of the food pantry, said.
However, to proceed with the second and third phases, additional funds are needed. While the church is searching for grant dollars, officials are hopeful that the fundraiser at the end of the month will provide a boost so that phase two can happen sooner rather than later.
While the new building's 1,792 square feet will be about the same amount of space as the portion of the parsonage currently designated for the food pantry, it will be much more usable, as the current space isn't laid out for several volunteers to be moving about, Ellis said.
Crecelius noted that the new building will feature an overhang for recipients to pull their vehicles under while getting food boxes, keeping volunteers dry during inclement weather. She added that the driveway will be set up so that recipients can then continue forward to exit, instead of having to turn around like they do now.
"It's just going to be safer," she said.
The food pantry is open from 8 to 10 a.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month. Besides getting food from Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville, the pantry is an Indiana TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) outlet. While only income-eligible persons may receive commodity foods made available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through TEFAP, once per month, they may receive a regular food box on their second food pantry visit. To receive a regular food box, the only requirement is proof of Crawford County residency.
"We're not a judge and jury," Ellis said. "We're there to serve."
Crecelius noted it isn't unusual for six or seven cars to be lined up at daybreak.
Through the first six months of 2019, 2,556 people have been served. While that appears lower than in 2018, it isn't, because, when the pantry became a TEFAP outlet last November, the way the pantry reported its numbers changed. Households can only be counted once a month even though they can be served twice each month.
The event on Aug. 31 will be in the church fellowship hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will feature dine-in or carry-out pork barbecue sandwich dinners for $9 that will also include potato salad, baked beans and a dessert. In addition, there will be a silent auction ending at 1 p.m., singing from both individuals and groups and a free bouncy house for kids.
Donations to the food pantry building project may be sent to Lincoln Hills UMC Food Pantry Building Fund, P.O. Box 594, 1598 W. S.R. 64, English, IN 47118.