By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
A Mt. Vernon food pantry is expanding its operation that will more than double its warehouse and distribution center.
Eddie Chrum of the Park Avenue Baptist Church food pantry, said the church was recently donated land north of the current food pantry location that will take it from 2,800 to 6,500 square feet.
“We’ve outgrown our current facility,” Chrum said. “We’ve got so much stuff right now that we can’t move around. Our pantry keeps getting bigger and bigger. We’ve been blessed with success.”
The current pantry formerly was a youth activity center and Chrum indicated that once the new pantry is constructed, the old pantry will be returned to the youth.
Chrum said church officials are in the process of deciding how to proceed with estimates provided by contractors. One contractor has proposed a turn-key operation at an estimated cost of $320,000; another has provided a cost estimate of $160,000, which would only include the shell of the building. He added officials are wanting the new location to include a place for people to come in and sit down while waiting on their commodities, and to keep them from having to stand outdoors in the weather. Church officials have already spent $15,000 to tear down the old building, believed to have been a furniture store at one time.
“We haven’t accepted either bid yet. We’re looking for grant money and for someone with experience in grant writing that would show us how to do it or coach us,” Chrum said.
Park Avenue’s food pantry has been increasingly growing the past three years and has been in the community for over 20 years.
“It’s a good ministry and a good way to get food to people,” Chrum said.
Meanwhile, officials from another Mt. Vernon food pantry, reports they have seen an increase recently to two groups — people who have veterans in their families and people over 55.
His Hands Ministries at 1611 S. 10th St., reports that pantry provides assistance to over 800 families per year at that location.
“We appreciate all donations from both individuals and businesses in our area. Our mission is to effectively use our resources to obtain unused and unsold foods to distribute to these needy families, and we would appreciate your support in helping us to meet their needs,” state President Crystal Atkins.
The pantry is open from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday offering breads, pastries, chips, drinks and any other donated items available. Additionally, there is a large distribution on the last Wednesday of every month.
“We average about 110 families on the Wednesday distribution,” said volunteer Don Summers, “and we’re serving between 1,700 to 2,000 individuals per month. If people have a need, we’ll distribute to them. There are no pre-requisites or parameters on anything. We depend 100 percent on donations and volunteers, and we have a good group of volunteers.”