Community supporting food pantry through pandemic
Times are difficult and uncertain in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but people are continuing to make donations to the Food Pantry for Woodford County so their neighbors are not doing without. “The community has responded tremendously … to support the food pantry,” said Sharon Hardin, its executive director. “And when I say tremendously, I mean thousands of dollars. It’s unbelievable what they have done …” The biggest challenge Hardin said she’s faced is not being able to purchase ground beef, dried beans (to make soups) and canned foods in bulk from local grocery stores trying to maintain inventories for their shoppers. “The food and the things that we need to replace,” Hardin said, “we can’t get.” So other food items are being purchased to supplement what’s not available, she explained. Community food drives in the months before the pandemic filled the food pantry’s warehouse with an overabundance of canned green beans and corn so clients are getting those vegetables instead of peas or carrots that are difficult to find, Hardin said. Because 32,000 pounds of food were donated during the holidays, the food pantry has an inventory of groceries, “it’s just we don’t have an abundance of it,” said Hardin. She said keeping warehouse shelves filled could become an issue in a month, but described not having ground beef as a bigger issue right now because it’s so versatile and used to make a variety of meals. In addition to not being able to special order food in bulk, the food pantry has been unable to purchase toilet paper and other personal care items for its clients, she said. In recent weeks, fewer people have been coming to the food pantry’s drive-thru on Mondays (5 to 7 p.m.) and Thursdays (1 to 4 p.m.) for emergency help, Hardin said. She said stimulus checks from the federal government may have allowed some families to buy groceries instead of seeking help in April. The Food Pantry for Woodford County continues to receive federal commodities, including frozen meats, cereal, canned meat, peanut butter and juice, from God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington, Hardin said. Anyone who wants to support the Food Pantry for Woodford County’s efforts to feed the food insecure may mail monetary donations to P.O. Box 1066, Versailles, KY 40383.