As the year draws to a close, demands on the food pantry are increasing, leading to a shortage of food for distribution. The St. James Caring Center is asking for donations of non-perishable food items for distribution on December 16, where 300 plus families are expected to be served.
“(November 18) we had 242 families and then we do homebound, which means if somebody can’t get out, then you are homebound, and we did 40 of those,” Caring Center Director Nancy Montgomery explained. “So, we are thinking in December, which is our biggest month, we are going to have 300 to 325 families and we do not get enough food from the food bank to give a sufficient amount of food to these people.”
“I’ve put out the word that we need either monetary donations–we’ll be glad to go buy it ourselves if we have money–and or, if they pull from this list and bring it in, we’d be ecstatic with that,” Montgomery said. During the November commodity day, which sees hundreds of families receiving food through the distribution program, there was a shortage and concerns are there won’t be enough food for distribution next month.
Montgomery said, on average, the Caring Center distributes food to 190-200 families plus those who receive homebound meals. “That number has increased recently because there are so many who are afraid to get out to even do the drive-through and now there are more who are unable to do the drive-through,” she said.
Anyone in the community needing to sign up for homebound can contact the office at the Caring Center at 573-265-2047 and talk to Marilyn Disser to get registered. There are criteria to qualify for homebound meals, but the Caring Center will aid in getting residents who qualify signed up.
The community is encouraged to bring non-perishable food to the Caring Center leading up the next month’s commodity day. Suggested items include canned vegetables, macaroni and cheese, canned tuna, peanut butter, jelly, canned stew or chili, canned gravy, instant potatoes, cereal, granola bars, cake mixes and frosting, canned fruit, canned meat, syrup, canned pasta, pancake mix, or canned juices. The Caring Center asks that no glass containers be donated.
Those needing to register for commodity day can do so at the facility. There are qualifications to be eligible for the monthly event, but staff will be able to aid families in determining if they qualify and how to register. “Those are not difficult either. Two forms of ID, proof of residency in the St. James school district, it’s pretty simplistic,” Montgomery said.
The emergency food pantry is also low on food and needs resupplied. “We have what’s called an emergency food pantry. If somebody, all of a sudden, lost their job and they missed commodity day or they’ve never participated in commodity day, we have an emergency food pantry. It’s empty,” she explained. “We’ve done so many emergency food pantries this month we’ve been shuffling things around to find food. And, we’ll never turn anybody down, but we also want to be able to customize it,” she said, adding children will have specific tastes that might not be the same as adults.
“Like everyone else, we get strapped for money, we get hit hard with requests, and our supplies are depleted,” Montgomery said.
Donations can be dropped off at the Caring Center during the regular business hours of 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.