Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Features

December 13, 2012

Food pantries help those in need

— Area food pantries have been busy this year, and organizers hope to keep providing for those most in need.

“The economy has been so poor so long,” reports Anne Baran, one of the Batesville Area Ministerial Association Food Pantry coordinators. “People are continuing to lose their jobs and have their hours cut, and new people are moving to the area.”

On average, this facility serves about 213 families a month, but “that number will go up because it spikes up quite a bit at the end of the year.”

The Sunman Food Pantry serves about 127 each month, but “we will have over 200 for our Christmas program,” notes Sandy Wagner, who coordinates it with Gene Gesell.  

Carol Parcell, Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corp. family services coordinator, says the number of clients at the Brookville food pantry has nearly doubled over last year, probably “because the pantry in nearby Posey Township closed .... (and) times are hard, and families need help.”

The Ripley County Food Pantry, Osgood, serves 250 families a month, and “we serve quite a few seniors,” notes President Bill Warren. “You think your shelves are stocked full, but then you don’t have much left” after that many people come through.

Clients may visit once a month. Organizers urge those in need to go to the closest pantries. The Batesville and Sunman sites accept clients who live within their public school district boundaries. The latter also takes clients who live in other parts of Ripley County.

Since township trustees in Laughery, Center, Jackson, Johnson and Otter Creek partially fund the Ripley County pantry, it’s meant to be used by those residents, but “we don’t turn anyone away,” Warren emphasizes. Delaware Township used to help, too, but “it just dropped out. We’re very disappointed.”

The president reveals persons can also attend special food giveaways on first Fridays from January-June 2013 beginning at 11 a.m.  

The four pantries get food and money from a variety of sources, and all receive help from Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Indianapolis.

Parcell stresses, “The support from the public is outstanding.”

Batesville gets a lot of assistance from area churches that help staff the pantry and donate items. “Groups like the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts have volunteered, and The Village Store, Oldenburg, has donated some things,” Baran reports.

“The pantry is such an expensive operation to run, and food prices are getting higher. We do struggle sometimes with paying for everything we have to get, but it’s good to know the people of this community haven’t forgotten their neighbors in need .... (and) it is really great how the clients come in and have such a long wait, but they are so friendly to each other. Everybody seems in such a good mood when they’re here. They’re good people who are in bad situations.”

Sunman gets donations from JTM and I and M Tanners Creek, Lawrenceburg, Wagner announces. Cousin Clara Zinser helps with the shopping and does couponing. Area schools have done food drives, “we’ve received donations from area businesses and the churches in the area do a lot.”

She recalls a Christmas letter being sent to a man and his family, but getting a letter back from someone else with the same name. “This woman had seven children listed, and when I called the number, she said she hadn’t sent a form in, but said she did need help for Christmas .... Her father or grandfather got the letter and wanted to help the family, but he couldn’t help them himself.

“I also got a letter back from a gentleman who we had helped over the past year. He said he didn’t need the basket this year because he got promoted to manager, but he appreciated our help and our respect for his dignity.”  

Warren says, “We don’t ask for a lot of help, but we’ve been blessed .... K B Specialty Foods, Greensburg, gives us all the mashed potatoes we need. I also have six to eight helpers and without them, I’d be nothing.”

He tells a story of what makes these efforts worthwhile: “One day a client came by, and he always shakes hands with me. He took me aside and brought tears to my eyes when he told me how much he appreciated what we did for him and the community.”

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