What Led The Food Bank To Its Current Predicament
St. Mark’s is not the only food pantry in Washington County. Many are seeing the same issues and have had to adjust because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After closing down at the beginning of the pandemic, St. Mark’s reopened during the summer of 2020 on the sidewalk outside of the church where West Washington Street, West Antietam Street and Washington Avenue meet in Hagerstown.
The pantry prepackaged bags of food and placed them on tables for eligible families, who must have a Community Action Council letter and ID, to take. Since moving back indoors during October of that year, the pantry has been reorganized to decrease the risk of patrons and volunteers getting COVID.
During that time, it saw a big drop in attendance from around 80 families per week to 20 families per week after reopening, according to Kelley.
With an abundance of extra food, the pantry decided to allow clients to receive food twice a month as opposed to just once. Since then, the number of families coming to the food bank has been consistently increasing back to around 80 families per week, according to Kelley.
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Loaves & Fishes Ministry
Thank you for your interest in the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry supporting families in our community who are experiencing food scarcity and insecurity. Inspired by the miracle of the multiplication of loaves by Jesus in the Gospels, our Loaves and Fishes Ministry partners with NourishLA to collect and distribute food to families and individuals in need.
The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is open for our neighbors in need
Our Food Panty is serving our community in a drive-thru / walk-thru distribution program set up in the parish parking lot. We collect and distributed approximately 5,000 pounds of food every weekend and serve 500+ people a week in our Venice community. The Food Pantry is open every Saturday from 11am to 1pm.
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The Food Cupboard Has Provided Staples To Families And Individuals In Our Area Of The City For More Than 40 Years It Operates On Tuesdays
Founded by a parishioner in 1980 to address a growing need in our community, the food cupboard has evolved into a ministry that addresses multiple needs for the clients served. In addition to providing supplemental food assistance, we provide donated seasonal clothing, household and personal care items, and referrals to various other social service agencies are provided as needed.
The Food Cupboard is now a United Way agency recipient accepting contributions made through payroll deduction. Our Food Cupboard relies on volunteers in almost every aspect of its functioning from off-loading of food deliveries, bagging of groceries, sorting and arranging of donated items, and the maintenance of our storage area. Hours of operation are Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
For more information, contact the parish office at 215.735.1416.
How Is St Mark’s Food Bank Adjusting
Due to the decrease in food received, St. Marks Food Bank has recently gone back to only allowing people to receive food once a month. The food pantry may also have to begin paying for food out of its own pocket due to a state grant expiring at the end of 2022.
Once that runs out, then we’re gonna have to buy the food that the federal government doesn’t provide to the tune of probably $4,000 a month, Kelley said. We’re just trying to balance what we have.
Kelley said that due to the increasing monetary demand, the pantry will have to get creative to continue serving the growing number of people who use it to supplement their food supply.
Some volunteers have reached out directly to those in their neighborhoods to collect food, and some local schools have had food drives that benefit the pantry. The pantry has even called into radio shows to collect food.
We’ve and gotten a huge outpouring from the community, Kelley said. We needed cereal, for example, that’s one of the things sweet cereal we never get. We called for sweet cereal and I think we got 300 boxes of sweet cereal. It was really tremendous. So, we’re just gonna plug away and do what we can and just see what happens, that’s all we can do.
Kelley hopes that the pantry can balance the decrease in supply with community outreach, reiterating its importance to those the pantry serves.
“We’ve been in the community for over 40 years, Kelley said. “We need to stay open.
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Saint Marks Food Pantry
Saint Marks Food Pantry serves clients on Thursday mornings, 8:30 10:00, from a small building on the south side of our campus, most easily accessed from Evergreen Street.
Clients need to bring a photo ID with an address for registration. Residents of Pulaski County are eligible for service. A file will be created for each family that is served. Maximum income levels are based on government standards for SNAP and USDA commodity distribution.
All food comes from the Arkansas Food Bank, in addition to food items donated from churches and individuals. Groups and individuals are also welcome to make material and financial donations. Persistent needs include: diapers and personal toiletry items: toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razors, feminine hygiene products and toilet paper.
How We Spend Our Funding
The Pantry Director salary and a portion of the salary for the Deacon of St. Marks Cathedral are paid from the Hildegardes Pantry restricted accounts . These positions play a critical role in organizing our ministrys efforts to care for those in need.
In addition, funds are used for special food items, such as holiday foods , miscellaneous pantry supplies, gas for volunteer delivery five times per week, lunch one time per week for Monday volunteers who are at the pantry an average of 5 hours unloading trucks, breaking down pallets, stocking shelves, and refrigerator and freezer and cleanings.
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Has Government Food Assistance Been Keeping Pace With Demand
However, the amount of food coming into the pantry has recently decreased. The federal Emergency Food Assistance Program allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy food to distribute to states at no cost.
This food is distributed through the Maryland Food Bank, which is forecasting an 18% increase in food distribution and programming costs and an almost doubling in food purchasing costs compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a release.
Everyone is feeling the pinch right now, and the food bank is not immune to this same economic volatility, Maryland Food Bank president and CEO Carmen Del Guercio said in a release. But the financial impact of these rising costs on our operations is enormous because most of the food we purchase is distributed to our statewide network of community partners at no cost to them.
Over the past two months, St. Marks Food Bank has received less food through the USDA program. In July, the pantry received only one order of meat among other items, while its recent August order featured mostly meat and fish, but little of anything else. That’s much different from what the pantry has been receiving over the past two years.
While food received through the USDA program can fluctuate from month-to-month, the current decrease might be the new normal for food pantries.
What We Do
Our vision is for a UK without the need for food banks.
We support a nationwide network of food banks and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
In the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty including 4.5 million children. We support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2019 and March 2020, food banks in our network provided a record 1.9 million food supplies to people in crisis, an 18% increase on the previous year and during the coronavirus pandemic food banks have seen need rise even further. You can find out more about the impact of our work during the pandemic in our latest report, available here.
We know it takes more than food to end hunger. Thats why we recently launched our five year strategic plan. We know our goal to end the need for food banks is ambitious, but by working Together for Change, we believe it is achievable.
FOOD IS DONATED
Schools, churches, businesses and individuals donate non-perishable, in-date food to a food bank. Large collections often take place as part of seasonal celebrations such as harvest and Christmas, and food is also collected at supermarkets.
FOOD IS SORTED & STORED
PEOPLE REFERRED RECEIVE FOOD
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