Tough economic times mean more people are seeking help from community food pantries. Supplies of peanut butter, jelly and other non-perishable goods are getting low, officials said.
In response to the growing need to have more food to feed the needy, the Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded a non-perishable food collection drive to benefit food pantries at Lehman United Methodist Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church.
St. John’s office manager Michelle Santos said the church’s 8-year-old food pantry serves between 35 and 40 individuals and their families a week.
“Our shelves wipe out pretty quick,” Santos said. “It’s really gotten huge because the need is just so great right now.”
Santos said the pantry feeds people from Hatboro, Upper Moreland, Warminster and occasionally Abington. Everyone is permitted to select goods that will fill one grocery bag, she said. Those picking up food must show identification, Santos said and cannot receive food more than once every other week.
“If we let it be every week we would have nothing,” she said.
St. John’s pantry is open the first and third Monday of the month from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the “working poor,” Santos said. The pantry is also open every Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone in need, she said.
Besides food and monetary donations from the St. John’s congregation, Santos said Hatboro Baptist Church and the Church of the Advent offer regular contributions to help keep the pantry’s shelves stocked. The Upper Moreland Pepperidge Farm store and the Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel shop at the Willow Grove Mall donate items periodically too, Santos said.
While it may not be something people eat, Santos said toilet paper is something always in demand.
“It’s not food, but it’s needed,” she said, adding that each person is permitted two rolls of toilet paper per food pickup. “Everything is needed.”
At Lehman United Methodist Church, Pastor Steve McComas said three weeks ago the cupboards were nearly bare. On Friday, when Patch visited, the shelves – save an empty spot for peanut butter and a lone jar of jelly – were brimming with macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, prepared meals and more.
“We’re seeing more people who need help,” McComas said. “It tends to go in waves, but the need never changes.”
Those in need can pick up a pre-packed grocery bag of food and toiletry items, including toothpaste, soap and laundry detergent Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. when Lehman Church's pantry is open.
McComas estimated that the church gives out between 10 and 12 bags of groceries each day the pantry is open, meaning those fully stocked shelves may not stay that way for very long.
“It’s anybody who can get to the church,” McComas said. “We don’t set up geographic boundaries. If you can get to the church then we’re here to help you.”
How you can help
The Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce’s food drive runs through Oct. 31. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the chamber office, Red Barn Mall, 120 S. York Road, Suite 6, or in the lobby of Hatboro Federal Savings, 221 S. York Road.
Items in need
Canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, pasta, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, cereal, canned meat (tuna, chicken, ham), peanut butter, jelly boxed meals, powdered milk, toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent and toilet paper