GREENVILLE – Greenville’s Fish, an ecumenical volunteer organization, first began serving Darke County in 1967 and continues to work to help those in need today, providing emergency food assistance at the Fish Choice Food Pantry at 400 Markwith Avenue. The organization is part of a charitable movement that began in England in 1961 when an Anglican pastor and one of his parishioners challenged their congregation to demonstrate God’s love in the world by helping neighbors in need; this concept spread to communities throughout the world, each local Fish group operating independently with no central headquarters dictating policies and regulations. Although some organizations have used the letters of Fish as an acronym, ascribing words to each letter, the use of the Fish symbol actually harkens back to early Christians, who used the sign of the fish as a secret code.
Since Fish’s beginning, people seeking help have called 548-2000, and received a return call from a volunteer offering assistance. At first, the organization provided many services, including transportation, financial assistance for utility bills, friendly visitors, babysitters, and more; however, as governmental agencies began offering help for many of these needs, sometimes using data from Fish records to document the need to establish such programs, emergency groceries became the sole service provided. The need for food has only increased through the years, with the number of households receiving assistance rising to over 6,000 in 2018.
Fish clients are only required to provide identification verifying their name, age, and current address to receive assistance. Because of vast need and limited supplies, clients can be helped only once every four weeks. Visitors to the Choice Pantry choose their food items from the stock on the shelves, just as they would at a grocery store, although Fish guidelines based on the number of household members determine the number of items allowed.
Food and money to purchase groceries which stock the Choice Pantry shelves are donated by individuals, businesses, organizations, and churches; the Fish Choice Pantry is open on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m., and on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers also deliver groceries to shut-ins unable to get to the Pantry who live within Greenville City limits. Donations are always needed and welcomed, as are volunteers eager to assist their neighbors in need. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, contact Fish at 548-2000.