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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When the pantry's bare, do not despair

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

With the wife out of town on business seemingly more than she's home lately, "What's for dinner?" has taken on new meaning at our house.

Granted we've endured a couple of recent Thanksgiving feasts, so a lengthy run of leftover turkey and ham has kept me from going hungry.

But once those microwaveable leftovers are gone, I'm on my own -- which can be dangerous in oh-so-many ways.

When I check the cupboards and the three refrigerators we now own, I find bits of this and pieces of that.

Dry cereal but no milk. Canned potatoes but no gravy. A pound of bacon but no lettuce or tomato. Can after can of pumpkin but not a pie or whipped topping in sight.

Not exactly the fate of Old Mother Hubbard but nearly as helpless.

Believe me, I'm not going hungry. That's easy to see. But I can commiserate at least a tiny bit with those who do wonder where their next meal might come from.

Certainly, I can afford to call Marvin's, Mama's or any of Greencastle's 27 pizza places and have something delivered. Usually I just choose not to since generally it is just me, and that would only mean more leftovers. Not that having leftover Pizza King barbecue pizza isn't a little slice of heaven all its own or that half a GCB is better than none ...

Certainly I can afford to be picky as well.

Of course, that isn't so true for many clients at the Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry.

Director Judy Miller says November brought an astounding 664 of them to the 620 Tennessee St. location in Greencastle.

Believe me, they weren't looking for Thanksgiving dinner fixings (although check for more on that later). Most were looking for a way just to put food on the table for their families.

"Our numbers are up," Miller acknowledged. "That's not a record but it's up there for what we've been doing."

Before we go any further, Miller also wants to set the record straight. The Putnam County Emergency Food Pantry is not -- repeat, not -- closing.

Not now, probably not ever (unless we can magically eradicate hunger, poverty and joblessness). It isn't even in danger of closing. What is true is that it's a vital community service that could certainly use some more assistance from the community it serves.

Where the Food Pantry is really hurting is in monetary donations, Miller said.

And before you get all sarcastic and say, "Aren't we all," remember that most of us are probably only a couple of paychecks away from visiting Judy Miller and friends at the Old Skate Place building ourselves.

Organizations that can help contribute monetarily can do so by sending a check to P.O. Box 423, Greencastle.

Those able to contribute canned foods and necessities to the Food Pantry can bring them to the office in the second building east of KFC just south of Robe-Ann Park. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Miller is uncertain how the rumor that the Food Pantry was closing got started. "I guess you never know what people are going to say," she reasoned, "but we wanted to stop that (from spreading) before it got going."

Among the pantry's greatest needs are canned veggies (particularly corn and green beans), soups (vegetable is always good), pork and beans, canned fruit and canned chili.

"Please make sure to watch the expiration dates," Miller cautioned. "They should be current. I've thrown away oodles of cans recently with dates as far back as 2005."

While the Food Pantry doesn't like to look a gift horse in the mouth, Miller points out that it has no real need for the canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce or creamed soups that tend to show up this time of year.

Folks struggling to put food on the table really aren't making pumpkin pies or creating creamy casseroles with the staples they have been provided at the Food Pantry.

"We don't put pumpkin and creamed soups in the boxes," Miler said. "They'll just take them out. We have a hard time getting rid of cranberry sauce as well.

"I have canned pumpkin with 2014 and 2015 dates on them, so they'll still be good for next year. We certainly won't need any more."

Nope. Not at my house either.