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Area food pantries adjusting to COVID-19 – Pantries modify means of accepting, distributing food

Written by Contributor. Posted in Community News & People in the News, Featured

Published on April 15, 2020 with No Comments

by Steve Euvino

 

Theresia Larimore, director of the Hobart Food Pantry, registers clients and takes their orders on a recent Tuesday distribution day. As with other pantries, the Hobart facility has revised its distribution process in the wake of COVID-19.

As with so many institutions dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, area food pantries are adjusting how they serve clients. Whether it’s distributing food or accepting donations from a distance, pantries are adjusting to COVID-19.

For the past several weeks at the Hobart Food Pantry, Tuesday and Thursday distributions have taken a new look. Instead of clients registering inside the building at 200 S. Hobart Rd. and then going to another part of the building for their food, now they are not leaving their vehicles.

Someone from the all-volunteer pantry meets a client at his/her vehicle, takes orders based on available food, and relays the order inside the pantry, where other volunteers fill the order and cart the food to the client and load the vehicle.

 

Pete Berlanga, a Hobart Food Pantry volunteer, unloads a cart of food into a client’s vehicle. Due to COVID-19, the pantry has reduced contact by carting food items directly to clients’ vehicles.

According to Theresia Larimore, director of the Hobart pantry, “We were trying to think of ways to not have contact with clients, as a solution to the problem.”

So far, Larimore said, the new system is working.

I think the clients are more engaging and they feel safer,” she said. “They feel good about the new system.”

The pantry phone number is 219-947-7779,

Elsewhere, the Portage Township Food Pantry, now housed with Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy’s office at 3590 Willowcreek Rd., has also revised its distribution. Starting the week of March 30, the pantry offers twice-weekly drive-by distribution Mondays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Portage Township residents must show a driver’s license or state ID.

 

Joe Glidewell, a Hobart Food Panty volunteers, unloads a cart of food into a client’s vehicle. The pantry has reduced direct contact with clients by registration outdoors and bringing the food directly to the client.

To address the anticipated demand, staff from Clancy’s office will be accepting pantry donations Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Accepted are donations of nonperishable food items and monetary gifts.

The trustee’s office is also providing emergency food drop-offs area shut-ins, including seniors and disabled residents with no means of transportation. For assistance, email info@portagetownship.org or call 219-762-1623.

Among the pantries serving Valparaiso is the Christian Food Pantry at 7 Chicago Ave. (corner of Franklin and Chicago), in the Asbury Centre building of First United Methodist Church. That church, along with First Presbyterian, Trinity Lutheran, and First Christian, all of Valparaiso, sponsor the pantry that operates Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to noon.

 

Larry Revoir, a Hobart Food Pantry volunteer, carts food items to a client’s vehicle. Due to COVID-19, the pantry has revised its distribution method to avoid direct contact with clients.

As noted on the pantry’s website, despite the closing of church buildings due to the virus, congregations have found new ways of collecting food and getting it to the pantry. One congregation has posted that food may be brought to its church on certain days and at certain times. Arrangements are then made for someone to be available to help unload food items.

Another church asks that those with donations call the church, and someone will meet them at the door, with arrangements made to get the food to the pantry in time for distributions. One congregation asked that plans be made to have the food picked up by a pantry volunteer.

Monetary donations may be made to Christian Food Pantry and delivered to any of the sponsoring churches or mailed to 1507 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso IN 46383. For more information, call 219-465-0207.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 505 Bullseye Lake Rd. in Valparaiso also contributes to Christian Food Pantry and is taking steps because of COVID-19.

As the Rev. Roger A. Bower, pastor, explained, for many years, St. Andrew’s has had “Karl the Kart” out in the welcome area to collect food.  People bring their donations, and every week food pantry volunteers come to collect the donations. 

During this pandemic,” the pastor said, “we have Karl the Kart outside on Mondays and Wednesdays under the overhang at our front doors.  People drive up and simply put their donations in the Kart.  They don’t even have to get out of their car. So far, people have been extraordinarily generous.”  

At Immanuel Lutheran Church in Valparaiso, the food pantry continued in mid-March, but with a twist, as its pastor, the Rev. Stephen Bongard, explained.

Our food pantry people have done a great job,” the pastor said. “We have direct drive-up. People just drive up to our porte cochere door. We bag the groceries for them and place them in the car.”

Bongard said clients called the church and were “so overjoyed we are open.”

Kate Schulteis, who is in charge of the Immanuel pantry, said the program is still operating Tuesdays and Thursdays, every four weeks. “We’re using a car line,” Schulteis explained, to better keep clients and volunteers at a distance from each other.

The pantry serves Center and Washington townships. A current photo ID or bill with the client’s current address is required. The church is located at 1700 Monticello Park Dr. For more information, call 219-462-8207.

Also in Valparaiso, Hilltop Neighborhood House operates Hilltop Food Pantry at 606 Union St. Staffed by area churches, community volunteers, and Valparaiso University work-study students, the pantry runs Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Hilltop accepts food donations weekdays, 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the main house, 460 S. College Ave. Call 219-477-4222 ext. 251 for more information.

Larry Revoir, a Hobart Food Pantry volunteer, carts food items to a client’s vehicle. Due to COVID-19, the pantry has revised its distribution method to avoid direct contact with clients.

 

 

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