It’s the time of year when families gather for large meals together in the warmth of their homes and by the light of their Christmas trees. They think of all that they are grateful for, they know that there are other families who are struggling, and they want to do something to help.
One way to meet immediate needs is to donate food to Patchwork’s food pantry, and this time of year our pantry is well stocked. It is a good thing. Even with shelves full of canned goods like green beans, corn, peas, soup, baked beans, and spaghetti sauce, we know that by February that excess food will be gone.However the need will still be there.
“99% of the people who get food from our food pantry leave with a smile and say thank you,” says Darlene Blagg, who volunteers twice a week in the food pantry. “They say they’re happy we’re here and that they can get food. Their smiles are our reward. They say they wish they had a million dollars and then they’ll pay us back.”
Darlene has a group of friends who she regularly contacts to fill gaps in the items we have available. One item that they provide us with are can openers.
“This week we had a man come in and he looked at the things we were going to give him and he said a bunch of them weren’t going to work for him because he’s living on the streets. So we put together things that he could eat straight from the can and we gave him a can opener. People are always glad they can get can openers. And the dog and cat food. That’s another thing people are glad to find out we have.”
Darlene tells the story of a girl who came to the food pantry last week with her mother. The girl looked into the food pantry and said, “Mommy, look at all this food! Can we have some? I’m hungry.” Darlene says “We fixed her up real good. We gave her some sweets right away, and we always throw extra things in. Often people will see what they’re getting and ask, ‘We get all that?’ and ‘Is that all for us?'”
We know that a single food order from our food pantry will not eliminate hunger in our community and does not address the larger social issues that lead people to visit our food pantry in the first place. A few bags of food do little to combat unemployment, underemployment, disability, serious medical issues, homelessness, and mental illness. But they do help people stretch the limited resources that they have and they help keep people alive in the short term while we work to address larger social justice issues.
Sharing food is also a spiritual and cultural activity. Over the holidays, we share meals with our friends, families, and coworkers. We take cookies to our neighbors and casseroles to shut ins. Sharing food is about much more than sustenance. Similarly, offering food to those in need is an example of hospitality to our neighbors and a moment of fellowship with them.
Patchwork is grateful to the following groups who have given food to our food pantry in the past few months: Darlene Blagg, Edge Body Boot Camp, Evansville Garage Doors, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Food for Fines Program, Fairlawn UMC, First Bank, First Baptist Church, McCutchanville Community Church, One Main, Order of Owls, Peg Ray, Red Door Preschool, Salem UMC, Tri State Orthopedic, and Trinity Anglican Church. We’re also glad for financial contributions to Patchwork that are designated for our food pantry, which help us keep our food pantry in operation. You can also make financial contributions to the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium, the organization that purchases the food for its seven member pantries (including ours) from the Tri State Food Bank.