Helping Out at the Food Pantry
Patch Give 5 program lets me give a little back to the community.
Today, I spent the afternoon volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry as part of Patch's Give 5 program.
The program lets me volunteer my time in the community in addition to devoting coverage to local charities. All the local editors of the more than 200 and growing active Patch sites across the country participate in the program.
I spent a portion of the afternoon helping the seven or so regular volunteers stock the shelves of the pantry with the food items donated during the week. We sorted the food, organized it on the shelves, broke down some boxes, double bagged plastic bags for the people who use the food pantry and chatted.
I'll return tonight along with about 30 other volunteers to dole out the food we stocked this afternoon. That food will feed about 200 families or 600 people, according to John Davis, one of the volunteers.
With the down economy, he's noticed more and more people coming to the food pantry each week. Although the shelves are cleaned out each week, they are somehow replenished and enough volunteers show up to keep the program running, explained Jim Westney, who has been overseeing the food pantry for the past two years. Even so, no volunteers will be turned away.
A lottery system is used to distribute the food. About 15 people come into the pantry at a time while the others wait until their number is called. They are allowed to fill two bags of groceries from the shelves and they are given two dairy items as they leave.
Some of the food is donated, some purchased by the food pantry with money donated from the St. Francis de Sales parish, local grocery stores provide more food and there is government issued food as well.
The whole operation takes a lot of effort, Davis explained. Beyond Thursdays, people have to coordinate food pickups at local grocery stores. All donated items have to be inspected to make sure expiration dates on the food have not passed.
Patch is dedicated to the communities we serve. All Patch employees spend five working days a year volunteering in our communities.
- Additionally, Patch gives 5% of its advertising space, free of charge, to local charities from the communities Patch serves. Please contact us to see if you qualify.