Feeding the hungry in Hardinsburg

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

One of the commands Christians are given in Scripture is to feed the hungry — emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s a mandate Fellowship Baptist Church is taking seriously, serving as a pick-up spot for Dare to Care food distribution once a month in Hardinsburg.

This isn’t the first attempt the church has made to provide food for those in need. Current coordinator Donna Griffith said a few church members managed a small food pantry that distributed food on a case-by-case basis.

“It was a small operation,” she said. “They didn’t serve folks on a regular basis. A bit more than a year ago, we had a lady who attended a revival who was part of a partnership with the food pantry in Campbellsburg. She was telling me about Dare to Care and that got the ball rolling as far as getting in contact with them, checking into the possibility of becoming a partner with them and setting up and implementing a food pantry on a larger scale. That was where it blossomed.”

The church has been operating the food pantry since September, when they served 73 individuals. In December, that number had risen to 110. Their next food distribution will be Jan. 20, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Griffith said the church still puts together emergency boxes during needs in between those monthly distributions.

“Each month, it has slowly grown,” said Griffith. “We keep finding new faces each month. We have repeat participants, but there are new people each month, which is good. The word is getting out and they’re inviting neighbors and friends and folks they know who need a hand-up.”

“There’s even been a few we’ve had to call to remind them,” said Pastor Bill McCrary.

Volunteers pick up weekly loads of food from Dare to Care in Louisville. The Kentuckiana-wide program distributes food to communities and individuals in need. Dare to Care stemmed from the death of one child in 1969. Bobby Ellis, only 9, died of malnutrition at home the day before Thanksgiving. The community was so stunned and determined to not let that happen again, they created the Dare to Care Food Bank. The program partners with nearly 300 local social service agencies to distribute food and has provided more than 19 million meals to the Kentuckiana area.

What’s offered at the Hardinsburg location depends on what Dare to Care brings them — usually fresh fruits and vegetables when it’s available, along with canned food and other food bank staples. Sometimes, there’s meat, too, and McCrary said a meat processor donated between 300 and 350 pounds of venison to distribute as well.

“Whatever they have available on their docks, we get,” said Griffith. “Plums, apples, oranges, grapes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes. We get a lot of potatoes. That’s a staple. We love it.”

“All your main garden vegetable stuff,” said McCrary.

The program is staffed entirely by volunteers, Griffith said, around 15 to 18.

“They put boxes together, on the night of the distribution, they help people get their boxes to their vehicles, we have folks who go pick up food from Dare to Care, we have individuals from another local church who come and do food pick-up and help with distribution,” said Griffith. “On that night, people will be there to register and sign people in.”

“Some people can’t get out of their cars into the building,” said McCrary. “We’ll go take food out to them.”

“It’s really hands-on, really involved,” said Griffith.

Griffith said they do take donations of food and funds as well. To set up a time to drop off food or have it be picked up, call 812-844-3034.

“We need community support to make sure the shelves stay stocked,” she said.

“There’s a lot of food insecurity,” said Griffith. “I was aware of it, but not of the extent there is here.”

Griffith said the majority of the people who come are elderly and on fixed incomes.

“We’re very grateful that people feel comfortable to come to us for help,” she said.

She said the community has really embraced their efforts, even far beyond donating food.

“We’ve had four freezers donated, two new refrigerators, we’ve been able to purchase two freezers and had another three refrigerators donated,” said Griffith. “We have been very, very blessed.”

McCrary said the church has also had a box truck donated to them, though they haven’t taken possession yet. They’ve also purchased a van to make the pick-up trips easier on the volunteers who make the drive to Louisville.

“It’s just really been well received and people are in good spirits,” said McCrary. “People come in and we treat them like people.”

“We approach it with love and respect,” added Griffith.

“We haven’t had anyone ask for anything else,” said McCrary. “We don’t keep money in the building. We’ve put all our efforts into giving food.”

Griffith said they have been able to refer people in need between the giveaways to other community resources. They’ve also had coats (clean and in good condition) donated so those who come for food, but also need a coat, can get what they need to stay warm. Griffith said the church is working to put together a clothing giveaway as well, possibly in February.

For more information about the food pantry or giveaway, call 812-844-3034. The church is located at 304 West Cheshire Ln., in Hardinsburg.


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