Portage Township Food Pantry to expand distribution in response to COVID-19 pandemic

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

Published on April 01, 2020 with No Comments

Amid growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and recently issued statewide stay-at-home order, Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy announced today increased efforts to serve the township’s most vulnerable populations.

Those efforts will include working with the Portage Township Food Pantry to increase distributions of much needed food to residents; increasing efforts to continually restock the food pantry; conducting welfare checks on senior citizens within the township; providing food delivery and prescription pick-up services for seniors and handicapped persons without transportation and working to remove barriers for those in need of assistance.

On March 19, the Portage Township Food pantry served approximately 315 individuals during its first drive-by distribution at its new location at 3590 Willowcreek Road. That, said food pantry executive director Bobbie DeKemper, was a 60 percent increase in the number of individuals served during one distribution date.

Clancy and DeKemper believe the demand on the food pantry will continue to increase as additional people lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the anticipated exponential growth in demands for food assistance, the township and food pantry will:

Begin twice weekly drive-by distributions from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning the week of March 30. Those seeking distributions must be Portage Township residents and show a driver’s license to receive a distribution.

Increase the number of allowed distributions from once per month to once a week.

Staff the food pantry five days a week to accept donations of non-perishable food items.

Begin a vigorous community campaign to keep the pantry’s shelves stocked, reaching out to individuals, groups, businesses and other organizations to donate non-perishable items or funds to keep the shelves stocked.

The township will also provide emergency food drop offs to senior citizens and handicapped residents without any other means of transportation. Those who are in need of the service should email info@portagetownship.org or call 219-762-1623

In addition, staff will continue to conduct welfare calls to members of the Bonner Senior Center which closed due to the pandemic on March 16. Portage Township has been assessing the seniors need for food or other services and has been providing drop off meals and prescription pickups.

The Christian Food Pantry

First United Methodist Church (Valpo FUMC), along with First Presbyterian Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, and First Christian Church, all in Valparaiso, help to run and maintain the Christian Food Pantry.
The pantry is located in the Asbury Centre building of Valpo FUMC (corner of Franklin St. & Chicago St.), 7 Chicago St. in Valparaiso

For more information and about hours of pantry, call 219-465-0207.

Food Donations: You may drop off food donations during the week and leave them in the shopping carts located inside the main entrance on Franklin Street any time the church building is open. The church is always open during office hours of 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. A list of needed items is listed below. 

During the COVID-19 Crisis: It is greatly appreciated how our sponsoring churches are responding to the situation created by the pandemic closings. Since church buildings are closed various ways have been found to still collect food and get it to the pantry. One congregation has posted that food can be brought to their church on certain days of the week at specific times. Arrangements are then made for someone to be at the door to help unload the food items. Another church group asked that those wanting to donate should call the church and someone would plan to meet them at the door. Arrangements were then made for that food to be brought to the pantry on the Monday or Wednesday it is open – 10:00 to noon. One congregation asked that plans be made to have the food picked up by a pantry volunteer. For individuals wishing to give money, checks can be gotten to their church act will be added to other money meant for the pantry and the church writes one check and sends it to the pantry. Checks for the pantry need to be made out to Christian Food Pantry and mailed to: 1507 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN  46383. Lots of great ideas are in place to help with continued help for those in our area in need of pantry assistance. Thank you to all involved.

Plans are now being made to offer Easter menu items to pantry families. Foods needed for this project are Jiffy muffin mix, cream style and kernel canned corn, Jell-O, canned fruit, jars of applesauce, 11 oz. coffees – regular and decaf, boxes of teas – at least 20 bags, hot chocolate, and boxed au gratin/scalloped potatoes. Monetary donations will be used to buy dinner rolls and hams. Pick-up dates for the special dinner items will be April 6th and 8th.



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