The Perry Area Food Pantry faced a very challenging year in 2020, but generous local donors stepped up and “enabled us to meet that challenge in a huge way,” according to the group’s annual report.
Personal donations to the pantry totaled more than $36,000 in 2020, the report said, with donations of food from individuals and groups exceeding 3,000 pounds and hygiene items valued at almost $3,000.
The Perry Area Food Pantry currently has a staff of 53 volunteers, who spent almost 3,000 hours in 2020 in serving the needs of clients with duties ranging from serving customers to loading and hauling food, stocking and restocking shelves, managing groups, entering data and generally keeping the place open and running.
Addressing the pantry’s donors, Site Coordinator Lou Hoger said that while the numbers “show just how many persons and households you were able to touch with kindness, we keep in mind that every number is a face and an individual affected by hardship and served by your generosity.”
Hoger outlined the year’s accomplishments:
- COVID-19 changed everything about the pantry’s routine, forcing curb-side ordering and delivery and a new sanitation protocol. The pantry now provides order forms in English, Spanish, two Eritrean languages, Burmese (Myanmar) and Thai.
- A successful grant brought the pantry two refrigerators and six new plastic grocery carts, greatly facilitating storage and delivery of goods to the customers.
- Volunteers Jill Cook and Steve Cook teamed up to establish the Perry Area Food Pantry website and a new email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A satellite pantry was opened in the DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy.
- Along with successful grant applications, the pantry received many unsolicited grants in 2020, including a $7,000 grant from Tyson Fresh Meats for grocery coupons and personal hygiene items.
Since the pantry’s December 2017 relocation to 3000 Willis Ave., the site of the former Rowley Masonic Community, the organization has operated without heating, air conditioning, running water or rest room facilities. The location is now owned by the Perry Lutheran Home.
“We have been and will be seeking a building that has adequate space and accommodations, adequate parking and disabled access,” Hoger said in the annual report. “A Capital Development Drive will be initiated as a space becomes available.”
For 2021, the Perry Area Food Pantry aims to keep moving forward into a more permanent situation, both physically and financially. Hoger thanked both the “committed, very capable, willing and compassionate group of volunteers” who keep serving the community and the local donors on whom so much depends.
“It is our hope that you will continue your partnership with us into the future,” Hoger said. “I wish I could meet you all face to face and give you my hand of gratitude.”