Tough times driving many to local food pantry

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

As the cost of oil, and therefore gasoline continue to climb, many families find themselves scraping by for basic necessities, including food.

One local support agency has reported a 20 percent increase in the number of families requesting help.

Eminence Christian Church pastor Sharon Fields said the tough economic times may be leading families to the Eminence Council of Churches Food Pantry in increasing numbers.

“It’s been slowly growing in the last quarter, since about January,” she said, noting that times apparently are tough enough that residents of other counties are calling on the Eminence based organization.

“People, I think, are pretty desperate about some decisions they have to make about their budgets and food.”

While the food pantry will accept referrals from other cities within Henry County, the primary target area is Eminence.

“It’s really designed for those people who live within the city limits of Eminence,” Fields said, “but we do make exceptions. If a social service agency calls and says someone that lives in another part of the county needs services, we okay it.”

The Food Pantry also will accept referrals from ministers in other parts of the county.

Fields said residents who utilize the pantry are required to fill out an assessment form that collects basic information, including address, number of family members and special food needs. The first time someone utilizes the pantry, they must bring a photo ID and “some document that shows they do live at the address where they live.”

The Food Pantry is for emergencies only, Fields stressed.

“This really can’t take the place of regular grocery shopping, it just can’t,” she said.

Households are given two to three weeks worth of food, but can only receive that four times a year.

Though the times have been tough for residents, Fields said donations to the Food Bank over the last year have, generally, been good.

During Red Ribbon Week in 2007, Debbie Hartford with the Eminence Family Resource and Youth Services Center and Eminence students donated 80 boxes of food, including a considerable number of boxes of macaroni and cheese. When the city of Eminence hosted its Halloween event at the Kentucky Renaissance Fair grounds officials requested attendees bring a donation of at least one can of food – they received enough to donate 17 boxes of food to the Food Pantry.

“Every year, the local Boy Scouts collect food as well, that’s primarily where we got a lot of the food we received last year,” Fields said. Additionally, when there is a fifth Sunday, Eminence churches take a special offering, the donations of which are used to provide vouchers for families who utilize the Food Pantry. Those vouchers can be redeemed at Norms Food World for fresh produce and other items.

Fields said donations from individuals have helped as well. She hopes, however, that as the economic climate forces many families to tighten their budgets that it doesn’t mean they reduce what they donate to the Food Pantry.

Residents who may be interested in donating food, or money, to the Pantry can do so by cash or check (made out to the Eminence Council of Churches with a note that specifies the Food Pantry), and send it to P.O. Box 123, Eminence Council of Churches, in Eminence.

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