Health & Wellness
Food pantry coordinator Patty McAllister sorts local food donations in the pantry located in the basement of the Yellow Springs Methodist Church. Demand for the free food offered at the pantry has almost doubled in the last month. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Food pantry coordinator Patty McAllister sorts local food donations in the pantry located in the basement of the Yellow Springs Methodist Church. Demand for the free food offered at the pantry has almost doubled in the last month. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Food pantry need is on the rise

Patty McAllister is making sure that no one in Yellow Springs goes hungry. The Yellow Springs Community Food Pantry, which she coordinates, provides free food and household goods on a bi-weekly and emergency basis to local households in need. Now that demand at the pantry has doubled in the last month, McAllister calls on the community to continue to donate the food and household goods that fill the pantry’s shelves.

“You know there are people who don’t have as much money as you, but there are people that are going hungry,” McAllister said. “The community has to keep giving.”

Demand had been steady at the pantry until last month, when the number of local households visiting the pantry went from 15 to 28, according to McAllister. She attributes the increase to continuing unemployment and the approaching holiday season, which can be particularly difficult on the poor, she said.

The pantry is open on the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. in the basement of the Yellow Springs Methodist Church and only serves those who live in Yellow Springs and Miami Township. In addition, those who need food in an emergency can contact McAllister.

According to McAllister, the local pantry fills a need that other pantries may not. While most food pantries are held once each month, the Yellow Springs Community Food Pantry provides food more frequently to buttress benefits low-income families receive under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as the Food Stamp program. The pantry offers the cleaning supplies and paper goods that food stamps don’t cover. And people can choose the products they want. The only rule, according to McAllister, is that those with larger families can take more food.

The pantry moved to the Methodist Church five years ago after being started by Mary Ann Bebko in her garage. Since then local church and community members have donated most of the  canned fruits, vegetables, soups, boxed meals, pastas and other goods available in the pantry from their own cupboards. During the growing season, some local farmers donate fresh produce as well. Cash donations, which McAllister uses to buy the paper towels, laundry detergent and dish soaps that are in high demand, have also come in when needed. McAllister said people sometimes hand her money on the street.

“It’s been supported greatly by the community and the different organizations, schools, churches and individuals,” she said. In addition to special collections by the schools and by Curves fitness club, each holiday season Tom’s grocery store donates turkeys.

Sometimes McAllister supplements the staples with cake mixes and other treats.

“I don’t stick to the bare necessities,” she said. “They should be able to eat as good as I do. More of a variety is a little more uplifting to all of them.”

McAllister, a retired optician, continues to run the pantry despite its long hours because of the satisfaction she gets from helping those in need. She was particularly touched when, after finding jobs, several people who had used the food pantry returned to donate food themselves.

“You just know you’re helping people,” she said. “You know there are people who don’t have as much money, but there are people that are going hungry. It’s made you realize how much you have.”

With demand for the pantry rising, McAllister said she hopes the community can continue to meet the needs of those less fortunate.

Those interested in donating can bring non-perishable food and goods to the church, or send a check made out to the Yellow Springs Methodist Church with “food pantry” in the memo to 202 South Winter Street, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. For more information on the pantry, call the church at 937-767-7560.

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