Church Pantries Help Feed Hardin County | Worship

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Local churches are on the front lines fighting hunger in Hardin County.

“Partnering agencies are what I call boots in the field,” said Jamie Sizemore, executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

Of the partner agencies that work with Feeding America, Sizemore said 75% are faith-based organizations. In Hardin County, most are denominational.

Pantries can be found throughout the county.

Reverend Dan Paddack of Vine Grove Methodist Church said his church pantry had been open for 19 years and the open-door community kitchen had been around for about five years. The food pantry provides boxes of food for people in need and the community kitchen organizes a meal on Saturdays.

The food used in this pantry and other pantry comes from a combined effort of donations from church and community members and Feeding America programs.

Through Feeding America, Paddack said, the church can help stock its pantry more cheaply.

Sizemore said the program is a buying cooperative. Feeding America can purchase items in bulk at a cheaper price, and partner agencies, such as food pantries, reimburse Feeding America for the amount they need for the bulk purchase.

Julia McKinley works with Cecilia’s Pantry and said it’s helpful for small pantries who can’t buy in bulk due to cost and inability to store so much food. This way, pantries can get the items they have both the funds and the space to use.

The Cecilia Baptist Church-sponsored pantry has been around for about 13 years. Now she said they support about 9-12 families.

“If we can help just one person, it’s worth it,” she said. “If we can feed that person, I feel like we’ve done our job because you never know how badly they need that food.”

Paddack said their Saturday meal plan serves 200 or more meals a week.

Sizemore said Feeding America is grateful for faith-based organizations and how they serve small communities. Some people in need may be members of their own church and others may be members of the community that lives nearby, she said.

Some of the pantries serve a few people a month and others hundreds, but Sizemore said each is important to help get food to the community.

In addition to the co-op, Feeding America has occasionally donated produce that they can share with partner agencies for a shared maintenance fee of approximately 18 cents per pound. Sometimes it is a retail product in a grocery store. They also often get fresh produce to give away for free.

Paddack and McKinley said there was a need during COVID, but food distribution dwindled because some in need were receiving financial assistance and there were bigger food giveaways in the area. But as those programs wind down and gas prices rise, they expect they’ll need to go back up for food provided by pantries.

McKinley sees more elderly people in her pantry coming to get food and other necessary items.

Paddack said the boxes his pantry sends out contain canned goods, meat and cheese when available. It usually contains about half a week’s worth of groceries, he said. Vine Grove Methodist Church also has a blessing box.

Food and cash donations to food pantries are always helpful, Paddack said. If you’re donating food, just make sure the food isn’t expired or about to expire, he said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1416 [email protected]

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