Local church sponsors mobile pantry

Published 11:30 pm Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bush Memorial Baptist Church reached out a caring arm to the community Friday by helping to provide food to area families during difficult economic times.

The church partnered with the Montgomery Food Bank to bring its Mobile Pantry to Troy and 120 families benefited from the food distribution.

Kathy Gibson, church secretary and event coordinator, said the families were selected through an application process made available through the local Department of Human Resources and the Public Health Department.

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“To qualify for participation, individuals had to meet at least one of five eligibility requirements,” Gibson said.

The requirements were proof of eligibility to receive food stamps, eligibility for aid to families with dependent children and eligibility to receive supplemental security income and income at or below the poverty level and special circumstances such as fire or injury.

The Rev. Otis Darrah, church pastor, said there were at least three times as many applicants as could be accepted.

“That’s an indication of the need here in the Troy area,” he said. “So, there is a need for this type ministry here.”

Jolene Kearns, Montgomery Food Bank program fundraising coordinator, said the foods for the area food bank are donated by local and national food companies.

“We have foods here that were donated by Kelly’s, Tropicana, Dole, Nabisco, Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls and many others,” Kearns said.

“What we have to provide through the Mobile Pantry depends on what is donated, so it varies.”

Corey Welch, Montgomery Food Bank warehouse manager, said many of the products donated are the result of over-production or products that are close to the ‘use by’ date.

“Grocery markets don’t want to accept products that are close the expiration date, so we get a lot of those,” Welch said. “They are not past the expiration date but close to it.”

The Montgomery Food Bank serves a 12-county district and, through partner agencies, conducts two Mobile Pantries a week.

“The Mobile Pantry is like a Band-Aid to a community,” Kearns said. “It doesn’t supply a need, it just fixes it for a while. Each participant today received between 75 and 100 pounds of food.”

On-site food pantries are needed to meet the long-term needs of the community, Kearns said.

“A food pantry extends an arm to the community by making food available on a continuous basis,” she said. “We need churches and agencies that will be willing to come to Montgomery and pick up food to stock these local food pantries, as well as those that will partner with us to bring the Mobile Pantry to their site.”