Food Pantry

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 27, 2009

Food pantry faces growth pains; your donations needed

The Panola County Food Pantry faces growing pains that threaten to impact its ability to provide groceries for needy families.

First, there’s simply an increased demand. The number of household representatives seeking help has risen around 300 monthly. There’s more unemployment and underemployment. Winter’s coming.

There’s always a long line waiting, director Nina Cruz said, when volunteers arrive each Tuesday morning at the Batesville Presbyterian Church to take applications.

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After applicants are screened they receive vouchers to take to the Downtown Square where food goods are stored and then distributed. The food pantry building was formerly the service station at the corner of Eureka Street and the Square. It is too small and needs repair. If you’ve driven through the area while the Mid-South Food Bank’s 18-wheeler is making deliveries to the Panola Food Pantry, you know the traffic congestion that results.

(Panola Food Pantry volunteers cope imaginatively. When food deliveries exceed storage capacity, the volunteers load it up and move it to off-site storage locations. Then they bring it back when on-site storage becomes available.

When Batesville’s Performance Food Group from time to time makes donations of frozen food, the volunteers scramble to find sufficient freezer space to accommodate the windfall.)

Right now, the Panola Food Pantry needs a bigger building. You and your accountant need to get together and figure out how you can donate the use of your vacant building to the food pantry so that you get a tax deduction for it. That’s an appropriate win-win scenario.

In addition, the food pantry needs volunteers and donations. On Tuesday, the number of volunteers taking applications at the Presbyterian Church were working at maximum capacity to make sure every applicant was served. More hands would help, Cruz said.

Donations are also needed. Canned goods and dry foods are okay, but when you donate money, the food pantry can stretch your donation farther than you can. That’s because through the Mid-South Food Bank the Panola Food Pantry buys food for a fraction of what you and I would pay for it.

Cash donations also allow the food pantry to address other expenses like rent, utilities and insurance.

You can be assured that your donation will be stretched so that it buys the most food possible for the people who need it.

The need is right here, right now in Panola County. There are many worthy charitable organizations seeking your donations at this season, but this is a real need at home. No where will your in-kind or cash donation get as much mileage to serve more needy people than with the Panola County Food Pantry.

Send donations to the Panola County Food Pantry, P. O. Box 1372, Batesville, MS 38606.
And if you own a suitable building that would better house this worthy operation, contact Panola County Food Pantry Coordinator Marie Leland at  380-7230 or 563-7595.