Food ministry need doubles
This is the first in a series about how the economy has impacted services provided by groups and agencies in Harrison County.
Volunteers who prepare and serve a weekly supper in Corydon have seen a tremendous increase in the number of people who partake of the free meal served in the basement of Grace Hall that once was home to Corydon Baptist Church.
Martha Byrd of Elizabeth and Leola Nichols of New Salisbury, two of the women who share kitchen duties, said until about a year ago, they were serving between 120 and 150 people. In the past year, the numbers have more than doubled, averaging anywhere from 315 to 438 last Tuesday evening.
‘We’ve had over 400 the last two weeks,’ Byrd said.
Most of those served, who can make a prayer request, are in financial need or are looking for employment, she said.
The meals, which are served from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the basement of the building, center around a chicken dish. The chickens are donated by Tyson Foods. The side dishes come from donations, some of which come from Dare to Care and Operation Blessing.
Nichols’ husband, Joe, heads up retrieving the items from Dare to Care and Operation Blessing. The Nicholses became involved about three years ago when Leola Nichols showed up one evening to volunteer.
‘The first time, someone asked if God sent me down here,’ she said. ‘I said, ‘Yes.’ They said that was good because so-and-so wasn’t able to be there that night.’
And she and her husband have been involved ever since.
‘We love what we do,’ Nichols said.
Joe Nichols also delivers about 30 meals each week to shut-ins.
‘The majority (who eat) are regulars. Some stay a good while,’ Leola Nichols said, adding that she believes they enjoy the fellowship time.
‘We have volunteers that try to talk to different ones,’ she said.
Carry-out meals are also prepared so people can take them with them.
Those who seek food often have other needs, which the volunteers try to help meet, whether it be through the clothes closet or used furniture. Then, there’s the monthly food box giveaway.
Volunteers assemble boxes containing a variety of food on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The boxes, which contain canned goods, mac and cheese ‘ ‘anything that won’t spoil,’ Byrd said ‘ are distributed that evening during the supper.
Byrd, who has been involved with the food ministry since it was started more than seven years ago, said they gave away 122 boxes last month.
Currently, about 15 to 20 people volunteer each week. While many are from Corydon Baptist Church, there are some from other churches, such as Joan Touchette who attends First Capital Christian Church in Corydon. Some, like David Whipple, who is looking for work, first attended the weekly program for the meal; now, he is one of the volunteers.
Additional volunteers are always welcome, Byrd and Nichols said.
With the need still in great demand, the women said their food pantry is quite bare after the boxes are assembled. They would welcome any donations, which may also include cereal and bread in addition to canned goods. Items may be dropped off any Tuesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Byrd said she also is willing to meet those who wish to donate but can’t do it on Tuesdays. She can be reached at 968-3308.
They also will accept clothes, shoes, blankets, towels and other linens and baby items, including furniture.
Some of the women had a bake sale last week at CVS/pharmacy in Corydon to help raise funds to purchase food items for the ministry.
The food ministry may soon expand to offer self-help.
Brother Tommy Hullette, pastor at Corydon Baptist Church, located along S.R. 337 northwest of Corydon, hopes to begin offering a program that interested persons can attend to gain information and skills that will help improve themselves, Byrd said.
Next week, the series will continue with a look at how the economy has impacted Harrison County Community Services.