Food Pantry at Trinity Episcopal Church Logansport, Indiana
By food pantry, I understood a place where one goes and gets food and returns home. That was the typical image I had in mind when I went to visit the food pantry at Trinity Church, Logansport, which operates the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month. I got there in time and met Fr. Clark who warmly welcomed me. He then gave me a tour of their food pantry facilities. The church uses the parish hall for a gathering place. In the basement, two rooms have been dedicated to food storage. Three big refrigerators, shelves and tables serve to store food items. While some volunteers were in the basement unpacking some of the food packages, there was another group in the kitchen upstairs making coffee, frosting cupcakes, filling jars with juice and water. On our way back to the parish hall, Fr. Clark began to tell me how Trinity Church congregation came to design their food pantry. They included a socializing aspect to promote social interactions and thereafter make their food pantry a place where one comes, meets people, gets refreshment, receives food and then returns home. Such an idea is very insightful. Their food pantry expands the normal food pantry design and becomes more of a gathering place for a common good.
In a few minutes after the distribution has started, the room was full of people. Everyone passed by the registration table to receive a number and grabbed a snack and drink before sitting. Folks were talking to one another with such smiles and laughter that could tell how much they were missing the moment. The buzz would fade for a second, just the time for the volunteer to call a number for the next person to be served. Immediately after, the same humming would take up where it left off, leaving me with the impression of being in an open market. From a distance, I could hear one person greeting another, “How are you?” All of a sudden, the other proudly replied, “I am doing better. I got a new house. I will be moving in two weeks”. Even though such conversation may sound casual, it illustrates how people who have been attending Logansport food pantry feel open to express their joy and happiness. Furthermore, such informal moments are likely to free people to share some of their daily burdens.
As I continued to observe the food pantry distribution, I was struck by the amount of trust between volunteers and recipients. After the volunteer has called a number, the holder of that number moves forward. Then, the volunteer asks, “How many?” to which the recipient responds by telling the number of people in his/her household. Without further verification, the volunteer goes in the basement, and few minutes later, he/she comes back with food items to give to the person. An hour had passed and more people were still coming. I was afraid that the food pantry folks would run short of provisions. However, Fr. Clark reassured me that, since the food pantry started, it has never been a case where people would go home without food. The food pantry does not determine in advance how many food items one will get. It varies on what they have that day. Trinity Episcopal Church collects food from different sources, and church members represent the most important contributors of the food supply. It was amazing to hear how one church member committed himself to provide fresh bread to the food pantry. As of December 2017, Trinity Church food pantry served 6,930 individuals coming from 1,660 families.
Fr. Clark and his church don’t only provide food and spiritual assistance, but they also connect food pantry beneficiaries to other organizations, which are assisting people in their communities. Thus, staff of “Area Five Agency” in Logansport are given a desk the day of the food pantry distribution. They “assist families and individuals with education, health care access, financial and housing support”, among others.
The team of volunteers at Trinity Food Pantry Distribution tirelessly served people with the same smile. I took a time to ask one of them how many miles he may have done since the beginning, and he told me smiling, “I am happy to do more.” In his volunteer role, Fr. Clack helped refilling the jars with juices, water and tea. He also made sure that the coffee pot never dried up. I asked him if that was his typical task at food pantry distribution. Joyfully he said: “Yes, I step in and help wherever there is a need. I like to be here and interact with beneficiaries. There are individuals who come seeking spiritual comfort, too.” Fr. Clark later told me that among the volunteers were those who used to be beneficiaries of the food pantry. The gratitude from those volunteers and the inclusive spirit from Trinity Church deserve to be recognized. Wouldn’t it be enriching for other beneficiaries to hear such success stories? How could Trinity Church give then such a chance? Well, success stories carry within them the potential to stimulate initiatives, or at least make that little spark necessary to waken somebody and inspire her/him with courage to try again.