ELDON - A line of people extended out the door of the Eldon Food Pantry Monday. Many rely on the food donations to provide them with staple items to help their families.
Rikki Rowden, a mother of five, said she tries to come later in the day to avoid waiting in the long line, but she had to come earlier today. "A lot of people need it," she said. Bob Baucom has been working at the food pantry for about six years. He said the pantry served 700 families last month, which is about 2,200 people, including children. "We probably have, in a month's time, at least 20 new people every month come in and sign up," Baucom said.
Baucom said times have been hard. The 30,000 pounds of food the pantry usually gets each month was cut in half to only 15,000 pounds. That means the Central Food Bank has been receiving fewer donations. Baucom said the food pantry relies on four sources: The Central Food Bank (provided by the USDA), Feed America, donations, and food bought from local grocery stores using cash donations. Baucom said the pantry usually receives funds from FEMA twice a year, too. However, they haven't received any this year. Baucom said they were told if they received funds at all, they would be reduced by as much as 40%.
Scherry Branstetter has been the manager of the Eldon Food Pantry for seven years. She said, "People in the community have been hit hard in Eldon. Some businesses have closed and we had one big factory close, so those people are trying to find a job. So, we're here to help them get through the hard times." Baucom said staple food items are best to donate. That includes things like canned corn, canned green beans, canned peas, maccaroni and cheese, and peanut butter.
Kara Hewitt volunteers at the food pantry every Monday. "Bring whatever food you have and you want to get rid of. Just bring it here to us and we can give it away," she encouraged. Branstetter said volunteers are important, too. "We have a few volunteers that come every day that we're open, and they give their time and energy and without them we would not be able to keep our doors open because we need a fairly large staff of people to gether up the food and give it out the back door," Branstetter said.
Baucom said the pantry won't turn anyone away, even if they don't meet the income requirements or live in Miller County. Patrons hoping to gather food from the pantry should bring the social security numbers and birth dates of each family member in order to register.