While some food banks nationally have had problems keeping enough items on hand to meet the demands of their clients, that’s not been the case for three Brookfield pantries.
“I need publicity,” said Pastor Dick Smith of Brookfield United Methodist Church, which opened its public pantry at 6951 Grove St. in March. “We could handle more people coming in.”
The church has food, toiletries, even diapers. Donations of money and goods have been coming in regularly, and the church signed up with Second Harvest, which supplies food pantries throughout the area, but only about 25 families a week are being served.
The pantry is open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“We have so much support, we want to give it out,” said Jean Malandro, who volunteers at the pantry.
The message is the same at Six-Fourteen Church, 1382 Broadway Ave.
“We haven’t gotten much of a response over the last few weeks,” said Pastor Jared Woodward. The pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, while a cupboard of food items is placed outside the church and can be accessed anytime.
Six-Fourteen’s pantry is stocked solely by donations from church members.
There are no income guidelines for people to participate in the BUMC or Six-Fourteen pantries, although Smith said he registers people to allow greater access to Second Harvest food.
“For us to be eligible for free food from USDA, when they (Second Harvest) have it, I need to tell them how many families have been in, what the age brackets are and that type of thing,” Smith said.
The Salvation Army food pantry at Living Waters Church, 7382 Stewart Sharon Road, is more established than Six-Fourteen and BUMC, having been operating about five years. It gets 40 to 50 families a month, and hasn’t seen much fluctuation since the COVID-19 coronoavirus hit, said Pastor Gary Jones.
“There’s plenty of food.,” he said. “We have never ran out. The Lord, he supplies so graciously.”
Living Waters has seven freezers in its basement, so it can hold a wider variety of food items, and often gets produce. BUMC and Six-Fourteen are generally limited to canned and packaged items, although BUMC was expecting a donated freezer to arrive at the time of the interview on March 23.
Living Waters is not a Salvation Army church, but being tied into the Salvation Army allows it to have bell ringers at Christmastime, which is when it collects a lot of the money used to run the food pantry, Jones said.
Living Waters falls under state, federal and Second Harvest guidelines, so those who receive have to sign up and provide an ID and address on distribution day, although many guidelines have been waived temporarily so people don’t have to handle pens and paperwork, Jones said.
Although all three pantries are open limited hours – Living Waters’ food pantry is only open once a month, the fourth Friday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon – the pastors handle emergency contacts.
“I won’t let anybody go hungry,” Jones said. “I don’t want anybody to go without food.”
Smith said he plans to keep the pantry open, “even as this thing dies down. We want to be available for folks because we’re in a good spot, we have a supportive congregation, we have some space. It’s something we should be doing.”
For information on the pantries, check out the churches’ Facebook pages, or call BUMC, 330-448-1001; Six-Fourteen, 330-619-5067; and Living Waters, 330-568-8033.