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Food pantry future unclear

September 26, 2012
For Gail Reyling and Laura Zipp, the Crawford County United Ministries' food pantry at Leavenworth is not just a place for people to get a few necessities; it's a passion, and one that is facing an uncertain future.

The food pantry has been experiencing a shortage of goods the last year due to the economic situation of many Americans and the rising need for supplemental grocery supplies and utility assistance.

Its statement is to holistically, spiritually and financially educate, empower and serve the people of need in Crawford County, and they're worried that they may not be able to continue to do so.

"It's happening all over," Zipp said. "Pantries across the nation are experiencing hardship."

Reyling explained that the food banks that donate to the CCUM pantry have been experiencing a significant reduction in all aspects of donations. She said that they used to take three trucks to Lynnville to the Bread of Life center and come back with donations stacked inside where the trucks were full to bursting.

"Now, we take two trucks and they're not nearly full enough for our need," Reyling said. "The amount of food that we can receive has gone down drastically; however, the amount of families that we serve just keeps increasing."

One of the most staggering shortages that the pantry is experiencing is a shortage of meat. It has had a 27-percent decrease in the amount of fresh meats being donated.

CCUM has tried to implement several different plans to combat the growing shortages. It has developed a "$5 on the Fifth" campaign at the JayC Store and other local grocery stores where the community members can donate $5 on the fifth of each month to the food pantry.

"We have flyers about 'Orange Bag Donations', as well," Zipp said. "During the holidays, those bags would come back overflowing, but it slows down during the summer months, even though the need doesn't disappear."

The Orange Bag Donations is a movement where people can pick up an orange bag at their local bank, fill it with food and return it to the bank or directly to the food pantry.

During September, the food pantry has serviced more than 88 families and 271 individuals. Those numbers fluctuate depending upon the time of year and whether or not students are in school. This year, the pantry has served as many as 490 individuals and 144 families in one month.

Even with the help of almost 30 churches volunteering their time and money, the pantry is still in need of donations, and Zipp and Reyling believe if things begin to progress as they have, closing the food pantry might become inevitable.

It costs about $1,000 per month to run the pantry and provide goods to the community, and while they have received help from local religious organizations, such as donations from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Salvation Army, officials are worried that, with the impending holidays, they may not meet the needs of the community.

While it seems dire, both Zipp and Reyling are optimistic.

"If we can generate an interest in the community to donate food and participate in the '$5 on the Fifth' campaign, we might be able to weather the storm," Zipp said. "We need donations in order to continue, but, if people don't know we need help, then they can't help us."

The pantry is currently accepting donations of all meats, including beef, poultry, pork, deer and other USDA-approved meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, sugar, oil, flour, canned vegetables, fruit, rice, boxed noodles, dry beans, juices of any kind, canned pastas, ramen noodles, canned milk and any type of cereal.

Persons interested in volunteering or donating money may call Reyling at 739-2785. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 133, Marengo, IN 47140. All checks must include the food pantry in the designation line.

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    October 04, 2012 | 04:16 PM

    This would really be a shame... These places service a lot of people with small children and may be their only place of refuge.....

    Dennis Cronk
Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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