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The Hiltop House Food Pantry

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Community News

Published on January 11, 2012 with No Comments

With a steadily dragging economy that makes news on a daily basis, many people wonder where their safety nets are in case they need help. Northwest Indiana still has government-financed options to help those who are struggling to get through these tough times. For people who can’t afford groceries, especially around this time of year, the Hilltop Neighborhood House Food Pantry is open to those in need.

Even though it’s located at 604 Monroe St. in Valparaiso, the food pantry is associated with the Hilltop Neighborhood House, at 460 South College Ave. The food pantry has actually been around for 15 years. In that time it’s been located behind the Hilltop Neighborhood House, as well as in Walt’s Place before it came to its new location. It’s been a measure that’s really helped struggling individuals and families who, when it came down to the budget at the end of the month, just couldn’t afford enough (or the right kinds of) food.

“In the past two years our population has doubled,” said Roseanna Gray, who’s worked at the pantry for 13 years. “We’re a need-based service, and the need has grown.”

According to Gray a person that comes to the pantry for food has to prove who they are and offer something that gives their current address. What qualifies a person, or a family, as needy depends on the income level based on a monthly scale. For instance, a person living alone that makes less than $1,500 per month would qualify for the services of the food pantry. For a family of six, the monthly income would have to be below $4,125.

“We were established to have a more-centralized location,” Gray said, discussing why the food pantry was set up in downtown Valparaiso. “Lots of people that come to us don’t have a car, so they need to be able to walk.”

As a state-certified not-for-profit, the Hilltop House Food Pantry gets a lot of its support from the government. However, according to Gray, that still doesn’t give them everything that they need or would like to have on hand. Things like fruit juice, fresh fruit, macaroni and cheese, instant potatoes and even something as simple as jelly are often not available unless they’re donated to the food pantry from the public during a food drive. And these are, along with cereal and spaghetti sauce, some of the major staples of what people that come to the pantry are looking for.

“We want to be sure that families eat healthy,” Gray said, referring to how fruit and juice are sometimes seen as a splurge, even though they have necessary vitamins and minerals in them.

The holidays are fast upon us, and they are a time where many people feel the need to do something to help those less fortunate. For those who want to do something that has palpable, local results that goes right back into their community, the Hilltop Food Pantry is open to donations of time, money and, perhaps most importantly, food. For those that have food they’d like to donate, the donations may be brought right to the pantry during operating hours. Monetary donations should be sent to the Hilltop Neighborhood House, with a clear label that the donation is meant for the food pantry. Those that want to volunteer their time to help run the pantry can show up during operating hours, or contact the pantry by phone.

The Hilltop Food Pantry is open from Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. For more information, call 219-241-3114.

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About Neal F. Litherland

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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