Food pantry in need of donations
The fact that 10 boxes of food were distributed in one day last week and donations are generally less in the summer has led to a number of empty shelves at the Wayne Food Pantry.
A total of 62 boxes of food were given out during the month of June at the Food Pantry, a number that is considerably above average.
"Sometimes we see the number of people we help increase as the temperatures rise. I am not sure if it is because of high costs of air conditioning or the fact that children are out of school. It might be a combination of several factors," said Deb Daehnke, one of approximately 10 volunteers who keep the Food Pantry operational.
"Our canned soup shelves are nearly empty and the cereal supplies are nearly gone," Daehnke said. Other items currently needed include spaghetti/pasta, canned chicken, pancake mix and syrup, tomatoes, crackers and paper towels.
The Wayne Food Pantry, a collaboration between several churches and the general population in Wayne, has been in existence since the early 1980s. It has been housed in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church since its beginning.
Jenny Hammer, Coordinator of the Food Pantry, said that while statistics from the early days of the pantry are not available, she has seen an upward trend in its use since 2012. At that time, 144 people used the pantry in the period from January to June. This year that number was 580 people. In 2012, a total of 454 people received assistance from the food pantry. During 2018, that number was 1119 people.
Through the years Hammer has seen a change in the type of people receiving assistance at the Food Pantry.
"Early on in my work with the Food Pantry, those coming for help were many who were unemployed. Now, we seem to be helping a younger population, many of whom have just moved to the area," Hammer said. She also noted that the Food Pantry is open to all Wayne County residents, with proper identification.
"Sometimes transportation to get the food is an issue, but we will do our best to make accommodations to those needing assistance," Hammer said.
She noted that the Food Pantry is designed to provide temporary assistance to those in need and can only be used three times per year.
The volunteers at the Food Pantry have had to purchase a number of items in recent weeks to re-stock the shelves.
"We appreciate all cash donations we receive and use the money to make purchases when we run low on supplies. We make all our purchases at the local grocery stores," Hammer said. Those using the food pantry also receive vouchers redeemable for perishable food. Those vouchers can be used at either grocery store in Wayne.
Volunteers work each morning to pack boxes with a variety of staples designed to last two to three weeks. Additionally, those visiting the Pantry are offered the opportunity to have extra items that have been contributed, such as coffee (when available), salad dressing, ketchup or popcorn.
Daehnke said she encourages those receiving boxes of food that contain items they are not able to use to return the food to the food pantry. In addition, boxes that are in good condition can be returned and re-used.
The Food Pantry is open from 9 am. to noon Tuesday through Friday for both those wishing to donate items and those wishing receive food. Additionally, specially marked boxes for donations are located at Pac-N-Save and Quality Food Center in Wayne.
For more information on donating food or receiving assistance, contact the church office at (402) 375-2669 Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.