POINT PLEASANT — One of Mason County’s emergency food pantries is facing its own crisis and is in desperate need of food.
Donations to the emergency food pantry located in the basement of the Presbyterian Church have dropped off to the point where those in need are only permitted to visit once every other month. The pantry used to have enough food to allow those in an emergency situation to get supplies every month.
Last year, the pantry served 2,787 people and 871 families. Donna Lambert, volunteer, said there are new families arriving every week and new people who appear to have never needed a food pantry. She said a man showed up once, said he’d worked at the same plant for 30 years only to find that plant’s door locked one day. This man is just one of many who arrive and sincerely don’t know the process for signing up to receive enough food to last four to five days, and though four to five days doesn’t seem like a long time, it’s an eternity when you’re hungry.
The process is actually easy — it’s the having the food to give that’s becoming the hard part. If someone is in need, they only need to bring identification to prove their address. There are no income requirements. Volunteers are there to meet a need and take people at their word when they say they are in an emergency situation - if they’re not, well, a Higher power will sort all that out at a later date.
The pantry feeds residents north to the Lakin area, and then to the county lines near Putnam and Cabell counties. Volunteers from not only the Presbyterian Church but others in the area help with their time and donations to the pantry as well as the clothes closet in another part of the basement which translates into a community effort serving the community.
The emergency food pantry and clothes closet are open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday. Yesterday, Ken Cooper was helping bag groceries in the pantry, sorting out boxes for families of one-three, four-six and seven and up. The boxes typically contain staples like cereal, canned vegetables, peanut butter, soup, crackers, macaroni and cheese, soup beans. Of course, what goes into those boxes is entirely dependant on donations.
Lambert said there have been times volunteers have shopped for the pantry and spent $2,000 at a time to restock the shelves but it goes out as fast as it comes in. Pam Heib, volunteer, is currently applying for a grant to help with funding the pantry but that money hasn’t arrived yet and the shelves continue to get more bare by the day.
For those who wish to make a monetary donation or donation of nonperishable food times to the emergency food pantry at the Presbyterian Church, call 304-675-2170 or stop by from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Wednesdays at the church.