Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

April 11, 2012

Herrick Food Pantry expands to food bank

HERRICK — Ever since it opened its doors, the Herrick Food Pantry has been growing and now the pantry will soon become a food bank, allowing for further growth.

    The designation means the pantry will be able to offer better food choices and more of it. The pantry currently only offers nonperishable food items, but beginning in May, it will be able to offer food selections, such as ham, eggs, milk and juice.

    As a food bank, volunteer Janeta Smith said the organization is able to purchase food through the state at a lower cost compared to buying it at the store. Smith added the food also is delivered free of charge to the facility.

    In order to become a food bank, the pantry had to apply for nonprofit status, which it received.

    “It’s gone from just a few people to an actual entity,” said volunteer Michelle Tenpenny.

    The pantry has received community support since it opened its doors two years ago in a small back room at Herrick Village Hall.

    Smith approached local churches about setting up a food pantry after delivering food baskets to more than 30 residents around Christmas. The program had been in place for some time and about a $1,000 worth of food would be distributed each year.

    “In doing that, I saw a definite need for the food pantry,” she said.

    Smith wanted to help those in need year-round and so did Christ Tabernacle Church, which asked her to speak to the village board about a food pantry.

    Village officials got on board.

    “They had an extra room they let us have,” she said, adding the village pays the cost of water and utilities for the space.

    Churches have kept the pantry stocked.

    “All five churches in town support us. They donate food, money, whatever we need,” she said.

    The pantry has drawn the support not only of the churches but the entire community.

    “The Boy Scouts, churches, individual community members — everyone on some level has given at some point,” said Tenpenny.

    Since it opened, the pantry has doubled in size.

    “We were opening it once a month. Now, it’s twice a month, and the amount we give each person has increased as well,” she said.

    As clients grew, so did the need for space. The village allowed the organization to expand its operations into another room of the village hall and renovations were made to accommodate it.

    “We had one tiny room. Now we have two nice rooms,” said Smith.

    Volunteers are still working on painting the walls and floor and hope to have that finished by May 1.

    The pantry is open to those who reside in Cowden-Herrick School District, and although the pantry currently does not have income requirements, Smith said that may change once it becomes a food bank. Operation times may change as well, she said.

    Smith admitted there is a lot of work to be done, but she and others are happy to do it.

    “We keep on plugging, and they keep right on coming,” she said.

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