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THE recent decision to close the Human Services Inc. food pantry led to some pretty obvious conclusions, one in particular. The county’s other food pantries will be feeding more clients than ever before.
That situation leads to another rather obvious conclusion. If those other pantries are going to be able to meet the increased demand, they’re going to need help from the private sector.
The closing of the Human Services Inc. food pantry last month had a direct effect on approximately 500 disadvantaged families the organization had been serving.
Only some of those families live in Bartholomew County, since Human Services operates in 11 counties in south central Indiana. Even though this area has not suffered as much as other parts of the country in the economic downturn, there are still an alarming number of local families who need assistance.
Any increase in those numbers represents a greater drain on agencies with limited resources. Fortunately, those remaining pantries appear to be able — at least for now — to meet the needs of the added clients without reducing allotments.
In fact, Love Chapel has recently been able to increase the groceries given to clients. At one time, the faith-based ministry was providing a three- to five-day supply of foodstuffs to clients. That has now been increased to supplies that will last five to seven days.
That has been made possible by a $45,000 increase in donations to Love Chapel, along with more restaurants providing food.
The county’s two other pantries —the Community Center of Hope and the Salvation Army in Columbus — have already seen an increase in clientele but indicate that they have not yet had to make any dramatic changes in operations. Any changes that have to be made will be dictated by needs but also by the overall community’s responses.
The people of Bartholomew County have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to support such efforts as provided by the pantries. There have been a number of instances in the past when some or all of the pantries have run dangerously low on supplies. Calls for community support in such situations invariably resulted in overwhelming responses that filled the shelves of the distributors.
This situation is different from those past emergencies because it is not temporary. The mathematics are simple. Three pantries will have to meet the needs of a clientele that up until last month had access to four.
The answer is equally simple. Those who had been supporting the pantries in the past must consider increasing their support. Those who have not been supporting the pantries in the past must change their minds.
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