In a December 23rd Letter-to-the-Editor, Don Striegel of the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry told the Southsider Voice what food pantries and food banks need most.
He emphasized that while food donations are good, monetary donations are also very important because it allows the food pantries to spend money on items that round out the supplies they already have, so recipients can create balanced meals.
Food banks and pantries often recieve more donations during the fall and winter, but experience shortages other times of the year.
Monetary donations can be allocated when shortages occur, and donors are encouraged to think of donating other times of the year.
Mr. Streigel's original letter is included below.
Many people do not accurately distinguish between food banks and food pantries; even national and local media often improperly use the terms.
To clarify, a food bank is a distribution center that solicits and accepts large donations from food producers and sometimes – when donations are insufficient – purchases food at reduced costs from vendors. A food bank stocks the products and allocates them to member agencies that directly serve the needy.
A pantry is one type of agency that receives food from one or more food banks usually at a nominal per-pound charge or at cost. Finally, people visit a pantry, not a bank, to obtain food to help meet their basic nutritional needs.
Typically, a pantry cannot get all the food needed to effectively serve its clients from a food bank. A pantry also relies on food drives, donations and purchases to satisfy the demand. Purchases can be quite costly to cash-strapped pantries, especially if shopping at retail food outlets.
Another misconception is that the need for food and monetary donations is greatest during the fall and winter holidays. In fact, pantries operate year-round and experience shortages several times during the year.
Local pantries do not have the resources to advertise. Limited funds are available to spend on food to insure sufficient quantity and variety. Thus, ongoing monetary donations are needed and appreciated. Please consider them in addition to food banks when planning your charitable donations.
If you would like to make a donation, Hunger Inc. would be most appreciative. The pantry, 1416 E. Epler Ave., is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays, 4-7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.
St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry