The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 14, 2012

Food pantries see more people in need


DANVILLE — Food pantries from one side of Danville to the other are experiencing a common trend: the demand for food continues to rise.

“You’d think you’d see the same people month after month needing food all the time,” said Chuck Brooks, director of the Danville Area Food Pantry. “The thing that amazes me — we see between 50 and 60 new families a month that have never been here.”

Brooks said the pantry serves between 300 and 500 families per month. The pantry is housed in the Danville Township building on North Walnut Street.

A few blocks north, the St. James Food Pantry is seeing higher usage as well. St. James pastor, the Rev. Randall Robinson, said a year ago, they were serving about 300 families. Now, they serve 400.

Brooks said the supplies at the Danville Area Food Pantry are dwindling.

“On hand, I would say we’ve got a month’s supply of food,” Brooks said. “We never really have more than that except when months we do a food drive.”

Brooks said the pantry does two big drives each year. The next one is the Frostbite Marathon Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. During the drive a collection truck will be stationed at County Market Towne Centre, with drop-offs at the two other County Market stores.

Brooks said the pantry hopes to collect enough food in November to have about a month and a half’s supply.

The other major drive for the Danville Area Food Pantry starts in May and is through the U.S. Postal Service and letter carriers.

Brooks said there are a lot of groups in the community that do food drives for the pantry.

“Every little bit that comes in helps,” he said.

He said during the Frostbite Marathon, some people may be able to give only a can of green beans. Another person might leave a shopping cart full of groceries.

“People are able to give what they can afford. That’s all you can really ask.”

Brooks said you never know who’s going to need help.

“Could be your next-door neighbor. Could be your brother,” he said.

Brooks said the pantry has experienced about a $10,000 dip in federal funding, which doesn’t count the year the pantry was skipped completely. Due to increased demand and decreases in stock, the pantry may change how often it gives out food to each family.

“We’re talking about going to every 90 days instead of every 60 days,” Brooks said. “We don’t want to, but it may become reality that we have to do that to stay open.”

A short way up the street, Carol Olson at the St. James Food Pantry echoes a similar uncertainty when it comes to supplying the needs of the community. But she also said “God provides.”

“It may be a week before, and you wonder, ‘Where are we going to get this food?’ And it shows up in all kinds of ways from different places.”

The pantry is housed in the St. James United Methodist Church; however, Olson said the pantry is really becoming a community effort. The pantry receives help from other churches, youth groups and high schools.

Much of St. James’ food comes from the Eastern Illinois Food Bank in Urbana and the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington.

Access to the food banks allows St. James pantry to provide watermelon, grapes, tomatoes and other produce, among other things.

The St. James and the Danville Area food pantries also both work with County Market.

“The manager (of County Market) will call if he sees a special buy. With the price of food going up, it’s important to have them as a partner more than ever,” Brooks said.

A third pantry on the other side of town has to implement some creative thinking when it comes to helping those in need.

Sharon Sawka, social service director of The Salvation Army, heads its food pantry.

She said people in the community step up when they realize there is a need.

“If (demand) keeps coming in strong, (our stock) could be something that we are going to have to think even more about, especially since we cannot put the word out until Nov. 1.”

Sawka said right now The Salvation Army, a United Way agency, cannot ask for donations because of the current United Way blackout period.

But Sawka added that active “food-raising” for The Salvation Army usually starts around Christmastime.

The Salvation Army also works with the Danville Area Food Pantry so that one of them is open each day of the week. And on Thursday, for the first time, The Salvation Army started handing out food during a later timeslot. Every second Thursday of the month the pantry will now be open from 6-7 p.m.

Besides its new monthly Thursday hours, The Salvation Army food pantry is open weekly from 1:30-3:30 Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Danville Area Food Pantry is open from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The St. James Food Pantry opens its doors at 4 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month. The pantry starts giving out food from 5-7 p.m. Next dates are: Oct. 17 and Nov. 28 (the fourth Wednesday due to Thanksgiving). The St. James pantry will not give out food in December.

Individuals can collect food monthly at the St. James Food Pantry by providing their ID and household size. They must also sign a form stating they meet income requirements, an income of at least 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

At the Danville Area Food Pantry, patrons must provide a picture ID and proof of address showing they live in Vermilion County or western Indiana. They must also provide IDs and/or social security cards of each member in their household. People can use the particular pantry every 60 days.

Area residents can use The Salvation Army’s food pantry by supplying: social security cards or proof of everyone living in the household, picture ID, proof of income and proof residency in Vermilion County.

Brooks encourages anyone who needs help to visit a food pantry.

“So many people feel ashamed to ask for help,” Brook said. Brooks said that if they can help with a couple sacks of groceries, people can use that extra money to fill their gas tank or for one of their bills.

“This is put on by community members to help our community because we just don’t know who’s going to be next.”

Places to get food

--Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 311 N. Collett St., Danville; 442-6802

Pantry hours: 9-11 a.m. Thursdays

--Danville Area Food Pantry, 141 N. Walnut St., Danville; 442-4031

Pantry hours: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

--Danville Area Rescue Mission, 834 Bowman Ave., Danville; 446-7223

Soup kitchen hours: 12:30-1 p.m. and 5:30-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 4-4:30 p.m. Sundays and holidays

--Grant Township, 525 S. Market St., Hoopeston; 283-5221

Pantry hours: 1:30-2:30 Mondays and Thursdays

--Holy Family Catholic Church, 444 E. Main St., Danville; 431-5100

Pantry hours: 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays, appointments required

--Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1930 N. Bowman Ave., Danville; 442-5675

Food baskets: up to four per week by referrals only

--Morningstar Ministries, 201 N. Chicago St., Rossville; 748-6196

Pantry hours: 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays

--Salvation Army, 855 E. Fairchild St., Danville; 442-5911

Pantry hours: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays

--St. James Food Pantry, 504 N. Vermilion St., Danville; 442-1504

Pantry hours: 5-7 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month

--Word of Life Mount Zion Ministries, 1535 E. Fairchild St., Danville; 442-7769

Pantry hours: 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays

Click here to subscribe to the Commercial-News print edition.

Click here to subscribe to the Commercial-News e-edition.