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Marshall food pantry sees rising number of recipients in 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If Community Food Pantry's challenges are any indication, more Marshall families are in need than in recent years.

In the past decade, the demand has grown by 28 percent, according to pantry officials, but volunteers continue working to meet the needs of those they serve.

Nestled in the downtown area's business district, the pantry provides food, paper products and other goods to families once a month.

"This year, right at the end of October, we've already fed as many people as we did all of last year," said board president Ron Duvall. "The numbers are going to be up."

Since January, more than 600 families have come to the food bank. It's unclear, though, why the demand has risen -- whether work wasn't available or whether more people are just now taking advantage of the community resource.

One challenge volunteers have is keeping the facility fully stocked.

They run 32 deep freezers and four refrigerators, but it doesn't quite fill the need.

Regardless, Duvall says they're grateful for the support they do have.

"We're not plush but we've got Share the Harvest, which is a really good (program) for us," he said.

Hunters contributed more than 2,000 pounds of deer meat through the program this past fall.

The pantry also receives donated garden items such as turnips and other fresh produce.

Recently, Duvall picked up 1,800 pounds of tomatoes from Lexington.

In addition to those donations, Walmart often provides bread, produce and meats, several churches and service organizations hold food drives, and the Columbia Food Bank has contributed approximately 237,000 pounds of food so far this year.

Community Food Pantry has been serving the community since the 1980s, but the rising trend is also making their space a functional challenge.

Officials are casually looking for new, prospective locations.

"We're really cramped for room," Duvall explained, adding utility bills ran between $700 and $800 per month this past summer.

Any monetary donations contribute to those utility payments or go directly to food purchases at local companies like Patricia's Foods and Aldi.

"Good staples are, like, peanut butter, tuna, macaroni and cheese, any canned veggies," Duvall said. "This time of year, soup's going good too."

Other food products that hold long shelf lives or provide a high amount of nutrition are canned chicken and salmon.

Cereal is also a good contribution for families, however it's a common misconception that the number of boxes will stretch far. Cereal typically only makes it to a few tables.

"The demand is always there," Duvall continued.

When a resident first comes to the pantry they are provided with a card that identifies who they are and the number of people in their household.

The card also allows volunteers to track each of their visits. Currently, recipients are allowed to shop at the pantry once a month.

In December, the Saline County Holiday Project will provide a second opportunity for participants to stock their cabinets.

Community Food Pantry is open from 5-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

The last full week of a given month it's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that Friday.

To make food or monetary contributions contact Ron Duvall at 660-631-6561.

Contact Sarah Reed at

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