Help is available for food, clothes

-A A +A
By Cindy DiFazio

Several groups provide help with food costs

As food costs rise, some Henry County residents find themselves unable to purchase enough food to feed their families.

The Henry County Life Enrichment Center in New Castle is a place where families can receive a free bagful of nonperishable groceries. Sadly that bag has not been as full lately.

Tri-County Community Action Agency Service Coordinator Bryan Raisor reported that donations are down considerably. “Our Dare to Care food is almost depleted,” he said. “We have very few resources.”

Raisor said he hates to turn people away, but the food pantry is pretty bare. “We were down to pie filling last week,” he said.

The agency also distributes government food commodities the third Tuesday of each month at the 4-H building. Raisor said that 100 residents were signed up for commodities at this time last year. “We have about 150 applicants per month right now,” he said, “but, we only have enough to serve 74 families.”

Raisor said that when the doors open for commodities distribution at 11 a.m. clients have been lined up for two hours or more. “Last month the food was gone in 45 minutes,” he said. “We had to close the door with people still waiting in line outside.”

Raisor said local Boy Scouts would help restock the food pantry in September from a food drive, but the need for non-perishable food items is pressing.

The center also serves lunches for senior citizens. Henry County seniors can enjoy lunch at the center every weekday at noon except Thursday. Meal prices are based on income and range from $1-3. Lunch regulars are even growing their own tomatoes behind the center.

There is another food resource available for Henry County residents.

Angel Food Ministries has provided low-cost food through churches and civic organizations for 14 years. Now, New Castle Christian and Henry Christian churches are working together to bring the ministry to Henry County.

Leon Leonard, of New Castle Christian Church, said their first food distribution was July 26.

Angel Food Ministries buys food from high-quality suppliers at volume discounts which provides customers with approximately $65 worth of groceries for $30.

A typical box offers about eight pounds of frozen meat and poultry; several fresh and frozen vegetable items; rice and pasta; milk; eggs and one dessert. For an extra cost of about $20, special boxes are available offering such items as a fresh fruit and vegetable box, meat box and dinner box. “We purchased a regular box plus the fruit and vegetable box,” Leonard said. “The food was very good and a good value.”

Senior citizens may order a $25 box of ten individual fully-cooked meals to just heat and serve. Meals are low-fat, have no added sodium and are nutritionally balanced with three ounces of protein, vegetables, fruit and starch. “It’s more healthful than a TV dinner,” Leonard said.

There are no restrictions, conditions or forms to fill out to purchase from the ministry, and food stamps are accepted.

New Castle Christian Church is the monthly distribution site, and people may place their orders at the church on distribution day or any Tuesday between 9 a.m. and noon or from 7-8 p.m. “We try to make it a situation where there’s a time convenient for everyone,” Leonard said. “In July we had 11 orders,” he said. “In August we took 33.”

Tuesday, Sept. 9 is the next deadline to order food.

For more information about the program, call Leon Leonard at 845-2850.

In Eminence families who find themselves in an emergency situation may turn to the Eminence Council of Churches Food Pantry.

The Food Pantry can provide two to three weeks worth of food for Eminence residents.

Applicants are required to complete an assessment form listing home address, number of family members and special needs. A photo ID is required as well as proof of address.

Although the Food Pantry serves mostly Eminence, referrals from other Henry County cities and ministers are considered.

The Food Pantry is located at Eminence Christian Church, 5333 South Main Street. For more information call 845-4139.

Monetary donations can be sent to the Eminence Council of Churches, PO Box 123, Eminence 40019. Designate “Food Pantry” on check.

To help the food closet in New Castle, individuals or businesses may drop donations off at the Tri-County CAA center or staff would be willing to pick up donations on Thursdays. The administrative office number is 845-7808.

Low cost clothing available through church

With clothing prices rising due to increased transportation and material costs, dressing for success has become more costly whether you’re buying school clothes for the children or a business suit for work.

One nearby option is The Presbyterian Clothes Closet in Eminence which offers very gently used clothing at extremely reasonable prices.

Women’s pants and blouses are priced at 50-cents each. Dresses and suits are $1.25 and up. Men will find dress shirts, casual shirts and slacks. Ties are a quarter apiece. Children’s winter coats can be purchased for $1.50-2.50. Coats for adults go for between $3-4. There is a large inventory of baby and toddler items at rock-bottom prices from which to choose. Shoes and accessories are also available.

“Customers have told me they never would’ve gotten their kids through school without the clothes closet,” spokesperson Betty Wilson said.

The program receives donations from all over the community. Donations have remained steady despite the economic downturn. “People still come in with truckloads,” she said. “We just keep the best.”

The Clothes Closet began after several ladies attended a Presbyterian conclave. One of the women participated in a workshop offering projects for small churches. The idea of a clothes closet appealed to the group and they asked for volunteers and donations during services. “It started out as just an announcement in church,” Wilson said. “Then word got around.”

Volunteers from several local churches run the Clothes Closet like a finely oiled machine. They meet every Thursday at 9 a.m. at First Presbyterian to accept donations. Then they sort, launder, iron, tag, hang and fold the items.

There are currently six volunteers. Wilson, Thelma Gault and Eileen Pruitt are all members of First Presbyterian Church in Eminence. Gault has been helping out at the clothes closet since it opened in 1968. “I remember when we used to bring in sewing machines, ironing boards and irons,” she said. “Sometimes we’d be here eight to ten hours working on the clothes.” Other regular volunteers are Iris Mclaughlin from St. John’s Catholic Church, Billie Morgan from Eminence Christian Church, Sarah Mason from First Baptist Church and Minnie Craig from Eminence Baptist Church.

Wilson said that in 2007, the group considered closing down the operation. “Three of our ladies are well up into their 80’s,” Wilson said. “Sometimes we think we’re getting too old.” She said that just when they were about to give up two new volunteers showed up. “

Iris and Billie have kept us going,” Wilson said. She also noted that Alice Ferguson of the Chat ‘N Nibble Restaurant is a great help. “She works but comes by and takes home ironing,” Wilson said.

All of the money collected from sales goes back into the community. The group awards five scholarships each year to college students from Henry County. Recipients receive a check for $50 a month as long as they are in school. This year’s scholarship went to students attending the University of Louisville, Sullivan University, Western Kenucky University and Georgetown.

The group also provides clothes to families who are the victims of fire, and other needs within the community. None of the money is used by First Presbyterian for operating expenses.

Wilson said the women enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie within their little group. “The biggest satisfaction we get,” she said, “is from our mission to the community.”

Wilson said they have seen an increase in customers off and on, but not a real spike in business. She urged people from the community to check out what the Clothes Closet has to offer.

“It’s a wonderful outreach and service for the good folks of the community” Wilson said.

The Presbyterian Clothes Closet is located in the First Presbyterian Church, 200 West Broadway in Eminence. It is open for business Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon. The church phone number is 845-4132.

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com