PRINCETON — As the year is quickly coming to a close, Bureau County Food Pantry Director Vanessa Hoffeditz has reflected back on the number of individuals served so far this year at the food pantry.
From January to October, the Bureau County Food Pantry provided food for 4,470 individuals. According to the statistics, there were 1,192 unduplicated households served during those months. Calculating that by the amount of meals, it adds up to 50,096 meals served during those 10 months.
“That’s a huge amount of food that’s come in and gone out,” she said. “That’s quite a number, and we still have two more months left in our year.”
This year, the Bureau County Food Pantry served 124 new households. Hoffeditz said during the month of October, she saw the highest amount of new households, 26 to be exact, that started using the food pantry.
“I think we’re still continuing to see a need, because people are still having situations that are causing them to have needs to make ends meet,” Hoffeditz said.
She cited situations such as the cost of food on the rise, high utility costs, lack of affordable housing in the area, and those unexpected problems that happen in life such as medical issues, broken-down cars or sudden increases in health insurance.
“We’re still hearing these are contributing factors for these households,” she said.
In Bureau County, statistics show that one in eight individuals are dealing with food insecurity. While the food pantry is working hard to eliminate hunger in the community, Hoffeditz said there continues to be a need, and the numbers prove it.
The Bureau County Food Pantry is always accepting monetary and food donations. Hoffeditz said for every $1 donated, the food pantry is able to purchase $10 worth of food.
As far as food donations, the pantry accepts common household food items such as cereal, mac and cheese and canned fruits and vegetables. The pantry is also in need of sugar-free and gluten-free food items.
Results of Stamp Out Hunger drive
In May, a record amount of food was collected during the annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which collected 32,000 pounds for the food pantry. Those collections allowed the food pantry to provide the Second Helpings Program for households with children. Second Helpings allows these households to get a second helping of food during the months of June through October. The program served 105 households, and provided food for 322 individuals.
This year, Hoffeditz said she opened up the program to all individuals during September and October, and a trend she noticed was more senior citizens using the program.
“Many senior citizens are on fixed incomes, and if they qualify for food stamps, the amount allocated to them is much lower,” Hoffeditz said.
Because of this need, Hoffeditz said she plans to open up the Second Helpings Program to senior citizens from June to October next year.
Refresh Food Program
The Refresh Food Program also proved to be another successful offering at the food pantry this year. It’s the fifth year the food pantry has partnered with local growers to purchase fresh produce for clients served at the food pantry. Hoffeditz calls this program “a win-win for all.”
Supported solely on donations, Hoffeditz is able to purchase fresh produce from local growers for the clients she serves.
“We’re supporting local growers and also able to get good quality fresh produce,” she said.
Winter coat distribution
The Bureau County Food Pantry recently wrapped up its annual winter coat, hat, glove and mittens drive for kindergarteners through eighth-grade children. Preregistration for the winter accessories ends Tuesday, Dec. 3. Distribution dates are Dec. 4, 6, 12 and 13. Families served through the food pantry must provide proof of 30-day income during preregistration.