Editorial: As food needs rise, it’s time to help the helpers

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Linda Merk picks a can of corn off the shelf at the Love Chapel food pantry in Columbus on Nov. 20.

Local food pantries are dealing with greater demand than they have ever seen, The Republic’s Andy East reported recently. That’s a call to action for those of us who are able to help.

Love Chapel and the Salvation Army are in the business of helping people in need at the most basic level, and now they need our help. These organizations operate the largest food pantries in Bartholomew County, but the record number of people they are serving of late has them a little concerned.

Kelly Daugherty, executive director at Love Chapel, “said he is confident that Love Chapel can keep up with record demand this year and next, ‘but can you do that year in, year out?’” East reported.

The need is clear. Daugherty said the food pantry at Love Chapel served 1,488 families in October, which he said amounts to about 1 in 10 county residents. And he expects this trend to continue.

Local food pantries receive bulk donations of food, but they also rely on money contributions to help meet the need. This year, Daugherty said, Love Chapel has used monetary donations to purchase an average of 40,000 pounds of food every month.

Meanwhile, Salvation Army social services manager Nancy Johnson noted its food pantry is serving an average of 30 families per day when it’s open Monday through Thursday, sometimes seeing that many people in just a couple of hours.

A growing number of people nationally and locally are facing food insecurity, which the US Department of Agriculture defines as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life.”

That’s a pretty basic need a lot more people are finding difficult to meet as the cost of living just keeps rising.

“We all think of Columbus as this nice, you know, very great community — and it is a great community, I don’t mean to say it’s not — but there’s still a lot of folks in our community that are hurting, and I think that’s the biggest, biggest message that we can get out to people,” Daugherty said.

It’s up to us to hear that message and respond to it. If you are able, please donate to these organizations:

  • Love Chapel, 311 Center St., Columbus: The food bank needs donations of canned goods and nonperishable items such as macaroni and cheese and pasta. You can also donate online at lovechapel-bartholomew.org/welcome/donate.
  • Salvation Army, 2525 Illinois St., Columbus: Monetary donations may be made in person or online at centralusa.salvationarmy.org/columbusin.
  • Gleaners Food Bank: The Indianapolis-based nonprofit supplies food banks in central and southern Indiana, including in Bartholomew, Jennings and Johnson counties. Gleaners says that for every dollar donated, it can provide up to eight meals. You can help by donating at gleaners.org/donate-2/give-funds.

If you visit gleaners.org, you also can find information about and support other local food pantries that are also serving those in need. These include Edinburgh Food Pantry, Community Center of Hope, Good Samaritan Food Pantry in North Vernon and more. Additionally, many schools and churches also have established food pantries.

In the spirit of the holiday season, please give if you can so no one in our community goes hungry.