Food Pantry has holiday needs
- Published: December 11, 2014
Some things have changed in the 11 years since Patty McAllister began running the Yellow Springs Food Pantry out of the basement of the United Methodist Church. There are more young people with families coming to the pantry now compared to a decade ago, McAllister said. And the overall number of families who come regularly has increased through the years. However, in recent years that number has held steady at about 35 families who come to restock their shelves twice a month.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for a local food pantry, according to McAllister.
“This is a definite necessity,” she said in a recent interview.
And another thing that hasn’t changed is that demand goes up during the holidays.
McAllister and two helpers, Paula Hurwitz and Ruth Paige, (all volunteers) were working this week to restock the shelves of the pantry, which opens to anyone in need who lives in the 45387 zip code on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. This month, however, the pantry will be open on the fourth Tuesday, Dec. 23, rather than the fourth Thursday, which is Christmas.
The women were expecting an influx of donations of canned goods from the local schools, which have been generous givers. Many local schools, churches and organizations give to the food bank regularly, according to McAllister, and she’s grateful to live in such a generous community. Often people stop her as she walks down the street and hand her a check for the pantry.
“Yellow Springs has made this job as easy as possible,” she said.
But there is always a need for more, and McAllister welcomes donations. The shelves this week were stocked with the regulars — peanut butter, pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned fruits and vegetables — and these items are always popular (although people do prefer organic, McAllister said). The pantry accepts all canned goods, which volunteers hope are not past their expiration date. McAllister requests that donators check the dates on their cans, as it takes a long time to identify dates after the cans arrive at the pantry.
But even more popular are paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste and feminine hygiene products, according to McAllister. Food stamps do not pay for these items, and most food pantries don’t stock them. While McAllister tries to keep paper products in stock, they’re always the first to run out.
Along with donations of canned goods or paper products, the pantry also welcomes donations of gift certificates to Tom’s Market, so that those in need can make their own choices. People can also make donations at the Food Pantry barrels in Tom’s Market and in the lobby at the Bryan Center.
Another change taking place this year at the pantry is a change of leadership. Beginning next year, Hurwitz, a retired nurse who has lived in the village since 2000, will direct the pantry operation. Earlier this year, McAllister, in a Yellow Springs News article, announced her plan to hand over the responsibility to someone new, and Hurwitz responded.
“Patty has been wonderful all these years, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to help,” Hurwitz said this week, stating that she is motivated by concern that there are people in the village who don’t have enough to eat.
Paige will also be a new volunteer helper as the coordinator of volunteers. A longtime villager, Paige said she is grateful to live in such a caring community as Yellow Springs, where she has experienced the support of villagers in difficult times.
“I’m happy to give something back,” she said. Those wanting to volunteer can contact Paige at 767-2476.
While the pantry is housed in the basement of the United Methodist Church and is supported by the church, it is a village-wide effort, McAllister said. The pantry also benefits from a board of directors who include Patty Purdin, Bob Baldwin, Rev. Sherry Blackwell of the United Methodist Church, Sue Dillon and Mike Arledge.
And while others are stepping up, McAllister wants to make clear she isn’t stepping away from the food pantry entirely. She plans to help out as a volunteer wherever needed, she said, and if people still want to hand her checks for the pantry on the street, she’ll gladly accept them.
“I’ve known these people many years,” she said of food pantry recipients.
“I still want to be involved.”