PCB and Country Mart aid food pantry

    The St. James Caring Center Emergency Food Pantry received donations from Phelps County Bank (PCB) and Country Mart to receive critically needed items as supplies dwindled last week. As more families are needing food while practicing social distancing, the pantry will need additional assistance.

    “We had an increase in our Emergency Food Pantry usage. We were able to fill all of our orders, but we were depleted,” Caring Center Executive Director Nancy Montgomery said. The facility sent out a notice to local businesses, family members, and other individuals asking for help in restocking for the coming weeks, as more families who are sheltered in place might need supplies.
    “Phelps County Bank (PCB) gave us a check for $500. When we went to spend it at Country Mart, they said they would contribute $50,” Montgomery explained. “It sounds like a lot of money, but when you buy certain items, that money goes quickly.” The facility used the funds to purchase several carts full of non-perishable items to restock the pantry for the coming weeks.
    “We serve families living within the St. James School District,” Montgomery said. Along with helping families in need, the pantry has also been assisting the St. James School District with its feeding program and other businesses providing food for the community. “We have been giving fruit snacks and things like that to help with the school. We are also helping Meramec Vineyards, who have been providing food to people,” she said.
    The demands of the pantry, however, is expected to rise the more people are forced to remain home. “We serve the community the best we can. If (someone) spends just $10 they can get 10 or 12 cans of ravioli or spaghetti,” Montgomery said. “We are totally out of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and jelly. We are also needing toothbrushes and toothpaste,” she added.
    The pantry is asking for donations of non-perishable items such as canned vegetables, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, canned soup, ravioli or spaghetti-o’s, spaghetti sauce, condiments, personal hygiene products, such as deodorant, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, and soap, pancake mix, syrup, and canned tuna.
    “We are keeping our doors open on the benevolent side. They need to bring any donations between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Montgomery said. Donations can be brought to the Caring Center located at 113 West Eldon. Donations can be brought to the food pantry side of the entrance, where the facility will assist in getting products out of vehicles, catalogued, and stocked into the pantry.
    Not only are citizens provided food, but they also receive personal hygiene products and meals are for children. “We always ask if they have kids in the family. We want to give them food they actually use and what they want,” she said. She said kids enjoy items like ravioli and macaroni and cheese, so those items are given to families with kids.
    She asked no fresh items, such as milk, eggs, or cheese, be donated, as they have expiration dates. The pantry will supply those products as needed and will ensure families will get the proper assistance to fit their needs.
    Montgomery said the pantry is not only preparing for the current crisis, but for when the city is opened again and demand will be even higher. “At some point things are going to open again and we are trying to get prepared for that,” she said.
    Anyone needing assistance or who would like to know more about the Emergency Food Pantry can contact 573-265-2047 to learn more.

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