DARKE COUNTY — The organizers of local food banks and pantries continue to see a lot of economic issues when they distribute food to the hungry.
Sharon Fellers, director of Grace Resurrection Community Center (GRCC), is one of them.
“Yes, we are seeing a lot of poverty,” she said. “January [this year] was abnormally high. By the first of the month, we served 50 households already.”
Kristy Cutarelli, coordinator of the Fish Choice Pantry, echoed nearly those same sentiments.
“January’s totals were almost exactly the same as last year’s,” she said. “But there were more individuals with 766 this year and 721 last year. We saw it back in 2009-10…people were moving in with each other to afford paying the monthly bills.”
“The economy has a lot to do with it,” said Don Moyers, who schedules for the Ansonia United Methodist Food Bank. “People come in here because there is a need out there.”
“We saw more calls this January than in the past,” remarked Diane McDonald, co-director of the Castine Area Food Bank with Fellers. “We were pretty busy. We had 22 calls this year; that’s the busiest it’s ever been in January for a couple of years.”
When asked if she thought people took advantage the food banks and pantries, Fellers replied, “We don’t cross-check here.”
“There are always people who use the system,” said Cutarelli. “We do take steps when we discover someone is abusing it. Either they cannot use the pantry for a month or for a certain amount of time. A couple of years ago, we had a couple of families that were suspended for six months because they contacted us using different names. We keep records.”
“You never know if people are taking advantage,” remarked Margaret Craig of Faith United Methodist Food Bank. “We take them for their word. We only had to turn one away.”
“Being taken advantage of is hard for me to say,” commented Moyers.
Listed below are the food banks and pantries with the number of clients they served in 2015:
• GRCC — 4,521 households
• Fish Choice Pantry — 8,265 individuals, 3,071 households
• Faith United Methodist Food Bank — Doesn’t keep track
• Ansonia Community Food Bank — 730 people
• Castine Area Food Bank — 146 families; 240 calls a year
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.