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Walnut Food Pantry increases summer giving

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 3:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 3:27 p.m. CDT

WALNUT — The Walnut Food Pantry has increased the amount of food distributed to families this summer to help handle increased food needs since children are home for the summer.

On Wednesday, Director Deanna Wilt said the numbers of families and individuals served through the Walnut Food Pantry has remained fairly steady this summer, in spite of children being out of school and not having schools breakfast and lunch programs. But, because children are not in school and therefore not having breakfast and lunch options through school, the food pantry has increased some of the items distributed during the summers, like cereal and lunch meat, Wilt said.

Also, to help supplement the Walnut Food Pantry during the busy summer months, the women’s group at Walnut’s First United Methodist Church has begun a support program which provides food bags for children. Each bag contains a breakfast item, lunch item, fruit, snack and juice for five days a week. Families register for the summer food bags through the Walnut Food Pantry. The food bags are picked up from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mondays at the church, Wilt said.

Looking at the need in the Walnut Township area, Wilt said the food pantry served 53 families last year, which represented 195 individuals. Of those individuals, 86 were children and four were elderly, she said.

Some of those people are unemployed while others are underemployed, Wilt said. Others are working full-time but their income just isn’t making ends meet and those families need a little assistance, she said.

Fortunately, the shelves at the Walnut Food Pantry are currently pretty well-stocked, Wilt said, thanks to the generosity of the supporting churches, individuals, groups and organizations. The recent Mail Carrier food collection drive in Walnut brought in a lot of items, she said.

As local summer gardens grow, it would be great to get some fresh garden produce to distribute at the food pantry, Wilt added.

In addition to food donations, the community has also been generous with itsfinancial donations, Wilt said. When asked to what she credits the success of the food pantry, Wilt said she thinks being a faith-based ministry has helped a lot.

For now, the food pantry even has enough volunteers to handle the stocking of shelves and helping with patrons, Wilt said. There is even a short waiting list of people willing to volunteer at the food pantry. Because the food pantry space is small, there is room for only so many people to work in the room, she said.

On a personal note, Wilt said the Walnut Food Pantry is something which she and the other organizers have felt called by God to do.

“One of the things God tells us to do is to provide for people who don’t have enough,” Wilt said. “I think everyone who works with the food pantry, or contributes to it, feels that this is something that is very worthwhile.”

Established in April 2005, the Walnut Food Pantry is a joint outreach effort of the churches in the Walnut Township areas. Open hours are from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. To qualify for the services of the Walnut Food Pantry, persons must live within Walnut Township and have a financial need.

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