More families seeking food assistance through Love Chapel, Salvation Army

COLUMBUS, Ind. — More families continue to seek help from local food pantries as inflation takes its toll on budgets.

Kelly Daugherty, who leads Love Chapel’s food pantry, has learned to put things in perspective.

“At least I’m not worried about what my kids are going to eat tonight,” Daugherty said. “There are so many families today in that predicament.

In April, Love Chapel’s pantry, 311 Center St., purchased 16,775 pounds of food, followed by 14,390 pounds in May, and finally 10,123 pounds in June.

“Up until this year, it had always been less than 1,000 pounds a month and that was just milk,” Daugherty said.

While Love Chapel served an average of 708 households a month last year, that figure soared to 1,007 in July, the ministry director said. While foot traffic has dropped slightly this month, demand is still about 20% higher than the previous record set while Daugherty has been in charge of the ministry.

In an effort to ease hunger in rural areas, Love Chapel has initiated a mobile food pantry that makes a run at least once a month, according to Daugherty. Before food prices began to soar, the mobile pantry would serve an average of 75 families, which translates into 225 people. But in July, it served 214 families and 747 individuals, the ministry director said.

“So we’ve tripled how many people we serve in our mobile pantry,” Daugherty said.

One positive note is that demand for food generally drops by 5% to 7% after fall classes begin, he said.

“Summer is busier because the kids are out of school, not eating school lunches and depending on food at home for all meals,” Daugherty explained.

Until inflation subsides, the laws of supply and demand will likely to keep food prices higher than normal for another three to five years, he said.

Not long ago, good-hearted donors would bring in $20 to $30 worth of groceries with some regularity to the Salvation Army of Columbus food pantry. But due to skyrocketing food prices, visits by those generous folks have become few and far between, social services manager Nancy Johnson said.

Nevertheless, she said the pantry at 2525 Illinois Ave. always seems to have just enough food to last from one delivery by Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to the next. And while large donations are not as frequent as they once were, there are still caring individuals that donate.

“I stand very firmly on the thought that God is going to take care of what I need,” Johnson said.

For the complete story and more photos, see Saturday’s Republic.