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Pantries need help feeding community

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A portion of this story was left out of Wednesday's LCR. The entire article is being posted as folllows on the LCR website. Local food pantries are feeling the effect of the novel coronavirus and some say they are running low on supplies. The Record spoke to food bank personnel recently to see how they were affected by the crisis. Salvation Army Director Sue Watson said the pantry is still open to one person at a time, but they are running low on many items. “We are open and we’re trying to give out a little more than usual,” Watson said. “”Usually we give out enough for a couple of days like an emergency pantry, but now we’re giving out a little more, not a lot, but more than usual. We’ve had people come who haven’t gotten food here before.” She said they are low on some food items. “We don’t have any cereal, we’re getting really low on canned food, canned meats, hot dogs, milk and regular lunch meat, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, bread” she said. They are also short on volunteers after Goodwill pulled its volunteer help because of the virus. In response to the pandemic threat, they are doing more cleaning and have people pick up their groceries instead of handing the items to them. “We’re trying to take precautions but we’re open three days a week still,” Watson said. Randy Neasby, board president at L-Life Food Pantry said the had seen an increase in calls for food. “People are needing food, we’re assuming that’s only going to get worse as time goes on with people out of work,” he said. Neasby said the pantry currently has plenty of food. “Our office is open for emergency boxes, if people need them, all they have to do is give us a call and we can get them signed up to pick up additional food,” he said. L-Life relies on donations and he said they are concerned things could get rough with the economy slowing down, he said. The situation has changed the way L-Life distributes food.

“When we do distributions, we let people come in the front and go through a line, there are items they can choose from and we have boxes for the bigger families,” Neasby said. “We’ve cut that down to where we only let three or four people in at a time, that way we don’t have a room full of people to cut down the contact as much as we can.” They are also looking at other options, possibly including a drive-through. Crosslines Ministry is getting in more food than normal from Ozarks Food Harvest to deal with the situation, according to Crosslines Director Viola Blankenship. “Generous people from the community have dropped off food while I’m here,” Blankenship said. “We are handling food orders in a little different manner because of the coronavirus. We are having clients call, set up an appointment, they come to the parking lot and we take the food out to them. That is what Ozark Food Harvest has suggested because of the communicable disease and the paper they have to sign so they suggested we do it that way and it’s worked out well.” The store area where people shopped for clothing has been closed down. “We don’t want to see anybody going hungry, with the children being out of school and things, I know it’s a hardship on the families, even though some of the schools are offering the lunches, a lot of our clients just can’t get to it sometimes,” she said. Blankenship said they are still at the site accepting donations and taking calls from people in need The Free Store Ministry is providing emergency assistance, according to Director Amber Meredith. “If people have emergency needs, we’re trying to meet those the best that we can and we’re trying to deliver as much as we can so people don’t have to get out and expose themselves to us and other people,” Meredith said. She said the Free Store is struggling to replenish its pantry which it allowed to run low while moving to another location in their building. “Now we need lots of groceries,” she said. “The community has been wonderful in finding places to help us get groceries and eggs, so we have a little bit of that left, but financially, with the need that’s coming and the number of people that are going to need food assistance, we just don’t have that in out budget.” She said they are currently unable to accept clothing donations because she does not have any staff who would be at risk from the virus. “I’m here by myself and I’m here the days when we’re supposed to be open, in and out, delivering, we’re doing food, toiletries, emergency supplies,” she said. Meredith said she encourages people to let them know of others who are in need of help and don’t have children who are included in other food give-aways. She said people can call the Free Store any time and leave a message for her. She noted that the social distancing required because of the pandemic has also affected many people negatively. “We’re praying for our community and we realize that with everything shut down, one of my biggest concerns is that there is a lot of depression from people being isolated,” she said. “The Free Store was a gathering place where people came and they were part of something, a lot of churches aren’t able to meet either and a lot of these people don’t have Facebook or smartphones, so there’s a lot of depression that comes from the isolation going on. I would ask if everyone could keep other people in mind, maybe give them a call, that would really help.”

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