Food pantries still curb hunger
Barry, Lawrence County organizations deal with crisis
During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, schools have closed their doors, and many businesses have cut employee hours or shifts altogether in order to help fight the spread of the virus.
As a consequence of families spending more time at home, another pandemic is on the rise — food insecurity.
Area schools have all put into place a way to feed the students during the extended wellness break, but with uncertain paychecks, the issue is continuing to rise.
The Monett First United Methodist Church, in conjunction with the Ozarks Food Harvest, is able to distribute meals.
Brian Smith, church pastor, said they are also serving hot meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. with a carry-out method, thanks to the Monett Community Kitchen and Pantry.
“The food pantry is open at noon on Mondays, but will not be open on the fifth Monday of the month,” he said. “On March 23, we served 122 households.”
Smith said that is a normal amount of traffic, and the only change at this time is that the food is distributed with curbside service.
“Typically, we give out a box per household, but larger families can get a bit more,” he said. “Also, before families were able to pick out the food that they wanted, but with the current situation it is all pre-packaged.”
The Tuesday and Thursday free hot meal carry-out is available to anyone who shows up, but the Monday pantry services do have restrictions.
“First, the individuals or families must be residents of Monett, Purdy, Pierce City or Verona,” Smith said. “Also, at time of distribution, they must provide a photo I.D., proof of residency (like a bill of some sort), proof of income if they have any and the date of birth and Social Security cards (not just the numbers) for every member residing in the household.”
Additionally, Life 360 Community Service has joined with Purdy, Monett and Pierce City school districts and what they are doing for students as far as grab and go meals go.
Drew Forsman, Life 360 Community Services Monett site director, said Monday through Friday from 3-5 p.m., food is being distributed to families in need.
“Children 18 years and younger will receive a week’s worth of food and a gallon of milk,” he said. “The week’s worth of meals includes 14 meals total. Seven meals for breakfast and seven meals for dinner.”
People can pick up the boxed food at 322 E. Broadway St. in Monett.
Another location in Monett is hard at work making sure the community has what it needs.
Crosslines has a functioning food pantry open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Malinda King, Crosslines administrator, said the distribution method is curbside pick up, but some residents in Monett and Pierce City can utilize delivery.
“People are asked to call ahead for an application process,” she said. “We will ask how many are in the home and if there are any dietary restrictions, then call back with a time for them to come pick up.”
King said seniors and home bound individuals can receive delivery based on their comfort level.
“We can drop it off at the door and knock if they prefer,” she said. “We add in a few Clorox wipes so that the individuals can wipe down the items once they are delivered to them.”
There are no income requirements at this time to receive the food.
“We just ask that people use what they need and don’t take advantage,” King said. “If we have the right size in diapers we will add them to the boxes as needed, and we try to add toilet paper and other necessities to the boxes going to seniors and home bound individuals.”
Delivery is available to Monett and Pierce City only at this time.
To apply for services or to donate items people may call 417-235-6666.
Serving both Barry and Lawerence counties is the Body of Christ food pantry in Wheaton.
Gene Robinson, church pastor, said the pantry is open, and the method of delivery is drive-through and is offered to the public every other Thursday from 1-4 p.m.
“Instead of coming inside to sign up, we come out to you to help with social distancing at this time,” he said. “We are also serving free hot meals on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. We are offering them as carry-out options and served 90 last Tuesday.”
Robinson said they will continue to serve carry-out hot meals as long as people show up to get them.
In southern Barry County, Cassville Mill Street Church of Christ food pantry is continuing its unique delivery method.
Jason Cockrum, church member, said the give-and-take pantry is open to the public and is located in a exterior cupboard outside the church.
“This is important to us, and we don’t plan on changing that because the biggest positive feedback we get is that people do not feel judged when using it,” he said. “Here, no one is watching them and they don’t have to actually ask for the assistance, so it feels more comfortable to them.”
Cockrum said people have said that if it wasn’t available that way, they would not ask for help, which means they would not be getting the help that they and their families need.
“With that however, issues have come up,” he said. “As much as people are panic buying at the stores, it has spilled over to the pantry as well.
“We aren’t judging people. We know they are scared, but that does put the next person who needs supplies at a heightened risk because then they have to get out again in a more public place, or they will go without.”
The church asks that people take whatever they need, but try to be considerate of the rest of the community, as well.
“We are restricted on items that we can buy in bulk for the pantry, as well,” he said. “If people can, it would be helpful if they picked up an item or two while they are at the store and dropped it off in the pantry.”
The items people purchase are non-perishable items, basic hygiene items, baby products, socks and other items similar.
“We are trying to restock as quickly as possible, but it has been difficult,” Cockrum said. “As a community, we can come together and try our best to help with food insecurity at this time.”
Additionally, if people would like to donate monetarily, they may do so using www.tithe.ly/give?c=1398104 for giving to the pantry.
The Cassville United Methodist Church has three separate functioning food pantries as well.
Janet Mills, church food pantry director, said they are all still open and doing distributions.
“We have altered the model to incorporate social distancing,” she said. “We are committed to providing food to people in need, no matter what.”
One of the food service options at the UMC pantry is a USDA distribution, which is held on the fourth Tuesday of the month.
“Last Tuesday, we handed out 120 meals,” Mills said. “The second is a USDA senior box distribution, in which we are actively seeking new applicants for that service.”
The senior box case load is limited, but the 117 applicants get a meal on the third Friday of the month.
“The dates can change on those distributions so people can always call the church to confirm,” Mills said. “The next date for the senior box is on April 24, and people can apply for it at that time.”
Some of the requirements for the USDA senior box include being over 60 years old and low-income.
“The third option we have the Feeding America Daily Pantry, which is open on weekdays 9-11:15 a.m.,” Mills said. “The delivery method for that is now curbside so we can conform to social distancing.”