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Surge in need: Pantries’ shelves almost bare


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Volunteers Karla Kirkwood and Carla Wilson stock shelves Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Volunteers Karla Kirkwood and Carla Wilson stock shelves Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Volunteer and client Carla Wilson stocks shelves near the end of her shift Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Volunteer and client Carla Wilson stocks shelves near the end of her shift Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Volunteer and client Carla Wilson prepares food Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Volunteer and client Carla Wilson prepares food Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at the InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin, Indiana. Wilson has been receiving assistance form the pantry for about a year and a half but recently started volunteering. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal


Spending $250 a month on groceries wasn’t a problem for a Franklin couple when they both had jobs.

But when her husband became sick more than a year ago, Carla Wilson began making monthly trips to the InterChurch Food Pantry to receive pasta, canned goods and other necessities.

Wilson said she dreaded going to the food pantry because she wanted to be the person helping others, not the one receiving help. But in her work as a volunteer at the pantry, Wilson has seen she isn’t the only new face to ask for help in recent months.

“Every day we’ve got new families that are coming in that have not been to the pantry before,” pantry co-manager Carol Phipps said.

How to help

Send a check along with a note saying you’d like to donate to the St. Vincent De Paul ministry to 345 S. Meridian St., Greenwood.

The InterChurch Food Pantry in Franklin provided food for a record number of families last year — more than 9,000 families in total — and is on track to help nearly the same number of families this year, Phipps said.

In Greenwood, His Hand Extended has helped more families than ever this year and is providing food for about 200 more families a month this year than last year, said Mark Crouch, station manager for the Trinity Broadcasting Network, which runs the food pantry.

Officials with both food pantries say job losses and the rising cost of living, including higher fuel and grocery prices, are causing the increase in need. And as more people need assistance, the food pantries struggle to keep up.

Twice this year His Hand Extended ran out of food and had to turn people away, Crouch said.

“Our biggest problem, if you want to call it that, is having to supply food for that many people,” he said.

To be able to provide for more families, both food pantries have sought out new sources of donations and have taken on more volunteers.

The InterChurch Food Pantry buys and receives food entirely through donations and has started getting food from more food banks, such as Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, than it has gotten before, Phipps said. Food banks collect and distribute food to pantries in the region. Gleaners Food Bank provides about 25 percent of the food the InterChurch Food Pantry gives out, Phipps said.

The food pantry also has received large monetary donations from Duke Energy and Walmart and has reached out to local schools and nonprofit organizations to do food drives, where they organize a collection drive to get food to donate to the pantry, Phipps said.

His Hand Extended receives money each month from the broadcasting network, but that amounts to only about 40 percent of the money the organization uses to buy food, Crouch said. The rest comes from donations.

The food pantry limits each family to receiving a box of food, including pasta, beans and bread, every four months. This year, they have seen about 200 more families a month seeking help, he said.

To take in more money and food donations, the food pantry has asked other assistance organizations, such as Human Services and Kids Against Hunger, for help, Crouch said. Earlier this year, Kids Against Hunger gave the food pantry a truckload of rice and soy meals to distribute.

His Hand Extended also lets community members know that the number of families they help is increasing, which has prompted more people to donate money, he said.

“We’re still getting enough donations to keep up, just barely,” Crouch said. “But we don’t ever have a stockpile. We wouldn’t know what that’s like. We pretty much go week to week.”

How local pantries are helping

His Hand Extended

1,031

Families helped in November 2012

820

Families helped in November 2011

40

Percent of the money spent on food that comes from the television station

60

Percent of the money comes from donations

15-30

Families helped each day the pantry is open

InterChurch Food Pantry

8,262

Families helped by

December 2012

9,214

Families helped in 2011

100

Percent of the money spent on food comes from donations

40-50

Families helped each day the pantry is open

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