Greenfield food pantry faces record need, asks for help

Hancock County food pantry needs volunteers

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A food pantry tasked with helping more families than ever before is putting out its own call for help.

The Hancock County Food Pantry served almost 800 families in July, the most in its 25-year history. The pantry is on pace for another record this month.

While food and money are always appreciated, pantry organizers say what they really need are a few good men and women. They’ll take kids, families and businesses, too.

There’s not a single paid employee, so volunteer efforts are being stretched thin.

Each person shopping Monday at the Hancock County Food Pantry has a different story.

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“We’ll get through it,” said Jenny Munden.

“Bills are crazy,” said Shyanne Milne.

Munden’s husband works full-time, but it still isn’t always enough.

“Food is really expensive anymore and this really helps us out a lot,” Munden said.

Milne hasn’t been to the pantry in a year, but she moved into a new house with her boyfriend and his daughter on Saturday. She’s going to school and working part-time. He works full-time. A trip to the pantry means no need to dip into savings.

“You see how many families are here; even successful families need help sometime,” said Milne.

But now it’s the food pantry asking for help.

In January, the pantry started allowing people to come twice a month. But the army of 150 volunteers hasn’t kept pace.

“We utilize people’s most precious treasure — that’s their time. We don’t want to abuse that,” said Tom Ferguson, the board president for the pantry.

The pantry offers food during six time slots per week, which requires volunteers to help at stations and escort shoppers. More help is needed at other times to unload trucks and restock the shelves.

At times Monday, there was a bit of a wait, though no one seemed to mind.

But last month, there were a record 778 shoppers, almost 250 more than the average monthly total last year of 530 shoppers. This month is on pace for another record.

“We’re strained. We’re strained with that number,” said Ferguson.

For now, he said they’re making it just fine.

“If that trend continues, we’re going to be significantly overworked,” said Ferguson.

There are no plans to trim back hours or make any changes.

“Not yet,” he said. “We’re going to persevere.”

He said they will persevere in helping hundreds of families, each with a unique story of perseverance of their own.

“I just really appreciate the help we get here. It helps my family; I know it helps other families. It’s just great,” said Milne.

“If it wasn’t for the food pantry, I think people would starve,” said Munden. “Thank God for the pantries all over Indiana.”

Ferguson said only 4% of shoppers last year used the pantry more than 10 months. The vast majority of shoppers, about 60%, used it three times or fewer — just enough to tide them over during the tough times.

Each trip is designed to provide about a 10-day supply of food per family.

Ferguson hopes more businesses will decide to get involved and volunteer together as employees.

While donations of food are always appreciated, donations of money can go even farther. The pantry can stretch every dollar you spend at a grocery store to get $6-7 worth of food.

For more information about the Hancock County Food Pantry, click on this link.