The Times West Virginian

January 31, 2014

Shepherd’s Love Food Pantry deals with increasing demand

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Four churches in Rivesville have formed a food pantry to help fight hunger in the area

Shepherd’s Love Food Pantry is supported by Rivesville United Methodist Church (where the pantry is housed), Highlawns United Methodist Church, Wesley Chapel and McCurdysville United Methodist Church.

It is open from 10-11:30 a.m. on the second or third Saturday.

Clients must fill out an application to determine income guidelines.

“If they’re enrolled in SNAPS, or food stamps, they automatically qualify,” said food pantry chairman Norman Malson.

The pantry is one of 11 to benefit this year from the Times West Virginian’s Gift of Love food drive.

The pantry receives food from several sources: donations, food drives, the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway, USDA and the TWV Gift of Love event.

This is the fifth year Shepherds’s Love has participated in the Gift of Love food drive, he said.

“It has helped tremendously.

“Last year we averaged 48 and a half boxes a month. Since October we’ve filled 280 baskets, or an average of 77 boxes a month.”

“And these are not small boxes.”

Tucked away in these boxes are nonperishables meant to tide a family over ... canned fruits and vegetables, instant potatoes and other foods.

The pantry also tries to make sure families get seasonal foods, like turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas.

“This November, we were wondering how we were going to do it,” Malson said. “And then two truckloads of food showed up. It was donated by one of the grade schools in Rivesville.”

Generosity like this helps the food pantry keep its doors open, which is also vital to the community.

“When the economy is down, people don’t have the money to buy this food,” he said.

The congregations of the four churches donated more than 100 turkeys for Thanksgiving and hams for Christmas.

“This was enough for our clients to have a holiday dinner,” he said.

Anywhere from 63 to 85 families are fed each month, he said.

“The demand has been increasing. When I started working with the food pantry, five years ago, we were filling eight to 12 boxes a month. Now we’re up to 85.”

There have been times they’ve almost run out of food, he said.

“But the good Lord provides. We were short in November and there were two truckloads. It seems that people just have the heart to give, especially the kids.”

Volunteers also give their time and energy to helping the less fortunate. High school students from North Marion, Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont, Morgantown and Waynesburg help out for community service credit.

When they can, they purchase food from local stores to supplement what they receive in donations.

“We get clients from all over Marion County, plus some near the border. But we don’t turn them down,” Malson said.

As with all the food pantries, donating just one can or box of food will help.

“One or two cans of corn will help a small family,” he said.

To help the Shepherd’s Love Food Pantry and all the other agencies the Times West Virginian is collecting food for, here’s what you can do:

• Individuals are encouraged to bring boxes or bags of canned goods or nonperishable food items to our business office at 300 Quincy St. We will be collecting these items Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Thursday, Feb. 13.

• Businesses, schools or offices can set up satellite donation locations to collect items through Thursday, Feb. 13. We’ll even come and pick up all items collected.

• Community-service organizations, schools, school programs, churches or civic groups can take this on as a project. Again, anything you collect, we’ll pick up to be distributed with the other donations.

For more information on the Gift of Love, call the Times West Virginian’s newsroom at 304-367-2540.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at