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Food pantries using community support despite impacted distribution

Organizations remain vigilant to serving the hungry during difficult times

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/23/21

CLAY COUNTY – It’s no secret food pantries get busier during the holidays, but local organizations are pushing to help residents in need in their areas.

Kathy Wray, Secretary of Clothes Closet …

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Food pantries using community support despite impacted distribution

Organizations remain vigilant to serving the hungry during difficult times


Posted

CLAY COUNTY – It’s no secret food pantries get busier during the holidays, but local organizations are pushing to help residents in need in their areas.

Kathy Wray, Secretary of Clothes Closet and Food Pantry of Orange Park, said the organization has given away 250 Thanksgiving baskets. As the registrants piled up, Wray said, staff were wondering if everyone could get a turkey.

But the businesses and residents in the community came through, Wray said. Several churches and the Boys Scouts of America assisted Clothes Closet with food drives. The Clothes Closet does have a need for non-perishable items such as juice, jelly, cereal and canned meats and vegetables.

“There's been a number of different ways people have provided help,” Wray said. “We’ve just been very fortunate.”

Keystone Heights’ Lake Area Ministries served 9,447 families this year, according to pantry Director Tanya Dennis. She said the pantry has recently served 48 new families in its large service area that includes Bradford, Putnam and Alachua counties.

With so much food distributed, there are logistical challenges, Dennis said.

“We need food. Stores are having trouble ordering in bulk and I can’t order in bulk,” Dennis said. “For the holidays it varies. Our numbers run high right now anyway.”

Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs volunteer Carmen Wulf said the pantry was assisted by Girls Scouts of America. The pantry usually has eight to 12 clients a day, but is averaging 25 people a day at the moment, Wulf said.

It’s difficult to order food in bulk, but donations from agencies such as the Elks Lodge No.1892 and VFW Post 1988 give the pantry ample supply.

“We get a lot of help from the community for this,” Wulf said. “I anticipate we’ll see more people.”

Orange Park Methodist Church Volunteer Director Julie Williams said the church’s pantry is manned by a team of 12 volunteers. She said the pantry was very busy and the amount of food the pantry receives reflects on how much is distributed to those in need.

“Sometimes there’s not as much food as other times, right now grocery stores are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked,” Williams said. “It’s a tough challenge for us."

Williams said a lot of community members are struggling, but the staff at the pantry enjoys helping.

“It’s rewarding to see someone show appreciation when they receive food and it’s good knowing it alleviates them from spending money that can go toward something else like an electric bill,” Williams said.