DARKE COUNTY — Individuals and families in Darke County who are having tough financial times have been able to get help when their own food supply gets low at home for quite a number of years.
There are at least seven food bank/pantries in the area who make sure these families in need of groceries get them. They are Grace Resurrection Community Center (GRCC), Fish Choice Pantry, Faith United Methodist Food Bank in Arcanum, Ansonia United Methodist Food Bank, Castine Area Food Bank, Bradford Resource Center and Versailles Council of Churches.
These food banks are non-profit, charitable organizations that distribute food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger. Most of the seven organizations store these products so they can be obtained when they are to be distributed. The food that is collected is sorted and reviewed for quality before distribution by these non-profit community or government agencies.
The GRCC Food Pantry is open to those in need of groceries. There are rules and stipulations the clients must meet, however.
As the churches came together for the Soup Kitchen in the Grace Resurrection Community Center, they also organized their individual efforts into one Food Pantry located in the new facility, a cooperative project allowing them to serve more needy in Darke County more efficiently.
“Our shelves and freezers are stocked through generous donations of food and/or funding, with which we purchase low-cost commodities from Shared Harvest in Fairfield, Ohio,” said Sharon Fellers, director of GRCC. “We have also received meat from Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH). Food is distributed by our member churches. We also get food from Marsh’s in Union City, and from Kroger’s, Walmart and Aldi’s in Greenville. Some businesses have really been supportive.”
Fellers said the clients have to live in Darke County.
“We distribute food on Mondays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.,” she said. “They can come in two times a month for food assistance.”
The donations GRCC receive come from all different sources, including churches, corporations and individuals.
”We receive funding from the United Way and the Community Christmas Drive,” Fellers said.
GRCC is located at the corner of Boston and Water streets in Greenville.
The Fish Choice Pantry at 400 Markwith in Greenville is an ecumenical organization serving the nutritional needs of the Darke County area utilizing home delivery and a choice pantry.
“We’re happy to serve Darke County residents this long and are appreciative and excited to have everyone support us,” said Kristy Cutarelli, director of Fish Choice Pantry. “It’s a true blessing.”
She said individuals can get help every 28 days. They are open on Mondays from 1 to 2 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m. and Fridays from 4 to 5 p.m. When there is a Level 2 or 3, the pantry is closed for the day.
Donations to their organizations mainly come from United Way and a small grant from the Greenville Rotary Club.
The number of recipients of food items changes somewhat, and she reported that there were 141 new families last year.
“People come in and go through the grocery store and choose food items,” Cutarelli said. “We usher them through, and help them with their choices. How much they receive depends on the size of the family.”
Faith United Methodist Church’s Food Bank got its start in May 2007.
Margaret Craig, organizer of the food bank, said she gets a lot of help.
The food bank distributes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We pack bags on Wednesday evening,” she said.
According to Craig, a lot of people from the church help out.
“We have seven teams of two people; some are husbands and wives,” she said. “Different ones pack the bags and do that by using menus to go by. It’s going fine and varies from month to month. Once a month we take calls. We don’t pack bags until the people call.”
She added, “I feel good about it. It’s busy sometimes when the food comes in and we check it all out. Some things are out-dated.”
A lot of their donations come from food drives at the school, post office and the Boy Scouts, as well as the Community Christmas bell-ringing fund in Darke County.
“We do not have refrigeration for perishables, so we give the people $10 gift certificates to Sutton’s because we have no place to keep it,” Craig said.
The Faith UM food bank distributes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. “We usually serve Arcanum and southern end of Greenville, but we’ll help someone anywhere.”
Roger Moyers, who does all of the scheduling for the Ansonia United Methodist Food Bank, said it is becoming a community food bank.
“The First Church of God does Thursday nights and helps with donations,” Moyers said. “St. Bernard Catholic Church in Burkettsville is going to come here and train at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 on how to do it. They gave us a good donation three weeks ago.”
Moyers said clients are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis and the food is distributed on Monday and Thursday nights.
“We have 902 bags of groceries going out,” said Moyers. “We also give individuals $20 voucher for M&M Petrol ‘n Pantry with the bags of groceries to get additional food, but they cannot buy gas or cigarettes. We gave out $5,220 in vouchers in 2015 and the Church of God wrote $6,000 for gas and utility bills.”
Clients, he said, are allowed to return every six weeks for additional food items.
“But they have to make an appointment with me,” said Moyers. “I have the records.”
Diane McDonald, a co-director of the Castine Area Food Bank with Fellers, said it is an emergency food pantry only.
“People can get help three times a year,” she said. “We help people at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. We served 436 at Thanksgiving and 445 people, including children and adults, at Christmas. It was a little higher in 2015. People are so generous this year.”
Calls for food are taken at the Castine food bank Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The packers will set up a time to make and appointment and meet the callers,” McDonald said. “We don’t man the food bank every day.”
The food bank serves Arcanum, Franklin Monroe and Tri-Village school districts as well as Sherwood Forest Trailer Park.
McDonald said that on Feb. 1, the Castine Area Food Bank celebrated its 30th anniversary. It began with three churches and now has 10 participating.
“The Lord has provided what we were going to need,” she said. “The supporting churches always come through. The donations always seem to fit what the needs are.”
The world’s first food bank was established in the United States in 1967, and since then many thousands have been set up all over the world.