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Faith fills Peru pantry
PERU- Throughout the year we tend to forget about the area food pantries and all they do for local residents who are finding themselves food insecure in this down economy. It’s that time of year again when the growing season is coming to an end and more people will have to rely on those pantries for more of their nourishment.
Recently, this reporter spoke to Brenda Swan of the Servant’s Heart Food Pantry located in the former elementary school in Peru. Swan noted, “We have been incredibly blessed.”
Their shelves are fully stocked and just recently received a 3600-pound fresh produce donation from Good Shepherd.
Their pantry is gearing up for their Thanksgiving donations to the local elementary school for families who are in need of a holiday meal.
“Each year we contact Dirigo Elementary School and ask them if they know of families who may appreciate our help,” stated Swan. “For the last couple of years we have been able to put together 25 banana boxes to donate to them.”
Swan stated that they don’t take names from the school, rather, they donate the boxes containing turkey, stuffing, vegetables and other goodies for a complete Thanksgiving meal and deliver them to the school for distribution to the families, helping them to remain anonymous.
This year, Good Shepherd will not be supplying food pantries with turkeys, but Hannaford Supermarkets have stepped in and are providing local pantries with gift cards in order to purchase turkeys when the stores become stocked in the weeks to come.
Each box would cost on average $50 to prepare for donation, but through the food pantry, they can easily make that money stretch to fill eight boxes with the discounts they receive.
“We have a wonderful bargain hunter in Pat Hickey,” stated Swan. “Pat is amazing at getting us great deals.”
For every $1 of cash donations Servant’s Heart receives, it’s worth $8 to them. While they certainly appreciate your donation of personal items such as shampoo, soap, paper towels, and of course, food, they can make that cash spread even further.
When asked if she was concerned for the winter months and keeping the shelves stocked, Swan stated, “I honestly don’t ever worry about this place. I give all the glory to our Lord. We have just been absolutely blessed. He is providing for us and I trust that He will continue to provide.”
The amount of families Servant’s Heart provides to has gone from 30 in 2011, to approximately 120 families in 2012. Swan noted that one-third of those are senior citizens who can’t afford to buy food and pay their heat, taxes, and other bills, and the families, on average, are upwards of six to eight people per household.
Servant’s Heart graciously accepts any food donations, as well as household products. You can drop them off on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. or call Brenda at 562-7167 and make arrangements for her to be there at a different time.
On the other end of the spectrum stands Dixfield Common Baptist Church Food Pantry and they are struggling to keep their shelves stocked.
“There are so many in need,” stated Linda Hinkley, wife of Rev. Ken Hinkley. “We have over 100 families we supply, with about three of them coming in on a weekly basis.”
The Hinkleys are finding that donations of product and money are becoming more scarce as time goes on.
“We’re so appreciative of what the town office and the schools collect during the holiday season, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep our shelves stocked,” stated Linda.
They recently had a large donation of fresh produce from a local farm, but with a shelf life, they will need to give that out to the families as soon as they can.
The Hinkleys greatly appreciate any donations of home and personal cleaning products, paper products, light bulbs, food and money are always welcome.
If you would like to contact the Hinkleys with a donation, please call them at 562-7470 for a convenient drop off time.