Four days per month, the Gays Mills Area Food Pantry opens its doors to anyone in need. Open the first, second and third Wednesday of each month from 2-4 p.m. and the first Saturday from 9-11 a.m., the pantry fills a serious need for those who are struggling with food budgets.
The local food pantry tries to offer a variety of basics, including; cereal, canned and fresh fruits, canned and fresh vegetables, canned tuna and chicken, peanut butter, pastas, rice, soups, meats and non-perishable necessary items, such as laundry soap, toilet paper and basic hygiene products.
Whatever the food pantry has comes directly from donations made within the community, according to Gays Mills Area Food Pantry Coordinator Sue Fry,
“The churches supply the volunteers,” Fry explained. “There is no regular income other than what people give. That is how we run and always have.”
Statistically, food scarcity is a growing phenomenon in the United States. With food assistance recipients now numbering 46 million nationally, 14.9-percent of the U.S. population receives governmental food assistance. Yet, U.S. Census figures from 2011 show that 15.9-percent of all households (about 48.5 million people) are food insecure. These people lack the resources to ensure the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods. They also lack an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies).
With cuts to assistance programs at the state level, community-run food pantries are stepping in to fill the need.
“Use has increased a lot,” Fry said. “We used to do 60 families a month. We are up to probably 90. We are open four times a month and it’s always busy.”
Just a few years ago, the food pantry was only open twice a month.
“We can always use more food and more money for buying the things we are short on from item donations,” Fry added. “Canned corn and beans are things we probably have enough of.”
“This community is awesome about supporting this effort,” Fry declared. “I am awed by the level of support and would like to thank everyone for their help.”