God's Pantry selects Boyle for food distribution

November 28, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Why were Gloria Valencia and her mother stopping by the Boyle County Fairgrounds a couple of Thursdays ago during a food delivery by God's Pantry?

"No tiene mucho dinero," said Valencia, who does baby-sitting in Perryville. Translated: She doesn't have much money.

A lack of funds to go grocery shopping was the reason most of the people came to the fairgrounds to receive a box of food that in-cluded canned fruit and powdered milk and also a sack with a dozen eggs and pound of hamburger.

"It's just like drive-by grocery shopping," said Cliff Dunne, who was at the fairgrounds as director of Families First, part of the family resource center for the Danville school system.

Volunteers help load the 100 boxes of food that Boyle residents receive each month. The recipients stop, sign a form saying they received the goods, have the box placed in their car, and exit the fairgrounds.


Several came in cars that bore handicapped stickers. Smoke poured from the exhaust of one car with a cracked windshield. An elderly couple drove a newer model car, but their fixed income limits their grocery purchases.

Although far from a senior citizen, Lori Stipe said that she appreciates the extra food, especially with grocery prices escalating.

"It's really helpful to me because I'm on disability and I have MS."

Katalin McChesney, who works with migrant education and Even Start programs of the Danville schools, was bringing a Mexican family who moved to Danville about a year ago.

"They don't qualify for anything else so this is a great help to them," said McChesney. "They work in agriculture."

McChesney works with them to teach them English and parenting skills.

This is the second month for God's Pantry to come to Boyle County. Stipe has learned how to make bread as one of the ways to use the food she receives.

"I actually started cooking bread because I had all the dried milk," she said.

Cooking is one of her favorite activities.

"I love to cook. I used to be a teacher and I love to cook, especially with my nephews."

Six local agencies determine who will receive food

Six local agencies determine who will receive the food. Each agency selects at least 15 people, leaving 10 boxes to be distributed to people who may have special situations.

Sometimes, recipients are between work. Darlene and Warren Heath recently had moved from Texas. They tried living in Bardstown, but came to Danville to allow Mrs. Heath's 16-year-old son, Joshua Huffman, to attend Kentucky School for the Deaf.

Mrs. Heath said she is grateful for the food.

"It's just a little extra to help us out," she said.

She didn't expect much of it would be around to serve on Thanksgiving. At 6 foot, 3 inches, her son is a big eater.

"I doubt it seriously. I'm waiting for food stamps. I don't know what the holdup is," she said.

Her husband is looking for work and said he will try his luck at one of the factories.

Situations such as the Heaths' is not that uncommon in Boyle County, according to Jolene Bailey, who oversees the food distribution.

As pastor at Faith Temple, Bailey already was working with a food bank at the church on Otter Street. Her program is known as Community Friends Outreach.

"It's really grown. We probably do an average of 20 to 25 families a month. We're seeing a lot of new ones I guess because of the different factories or plants that are closing or laying off."

Bailey said the people in need might surprise some people.

"A lot of them are two-family workers that both of them lost their jobs. Maybe one of them has found a job, but the other hasn't. We're seeing a lot of middle class families that are having to start over."

Bailey mainly worries about children going hungry, which was a situation she faced when she was raising children as a single mom.

"If you are waiting for food stamps or you've run out of groceries, then every little bit helps."

God's Pantry decided to come to Boyle County, but needed someone who would be responsible for the paperwork and distribution. Bailey volunteered to do the paperwork.

"Since it's through God's Pantry, it needed to be a religious organization that does it," she said.

Statistics identified Boyle as having a potential need

God's Pantry selected Boyle County because statistics identified it as one of the counties with a potential need.

Marian Blanchard, executive director of God's Pantry food bank, said the organization looks at counties that appear to be underserved, and Boyle fits that description.

Leslie and Bath counties also are being served with similar distributions.

Lincoln was one of the counties last year, and a pantry was started there at Double Springs Baptist Church in Waynesburg.

Donna Clore, Boyle County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, approached God's Pantry about coming here and helped work out the details of the distribution. She now unlocks the gate at the fairgrounds to allow the families to pick up the food the second Thursday of each month.

Bailey's group, Community Friends Outreach, works with The Salvation Army, Senior Citizens, Comprehensive Care and family resource centers of the Danville and Boyle County school systems to recruit families.

Dunne said that so far the system is working well, with 93 people signed up.

"There will be a rotating schedule if we get more than 100," he said.

One of the volunteers helping with the distribution, Ferrell Bailey, said it makes him feel good to lend a hand.

"I'm glad we can help them. It's God's blessing we can help them like this." |None

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