Stan Mason, Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church Pastor Scott Scheel and Norma Wesoloski are concern that because of increased use this summer by families at the food pantry, it could run short during their normal busy months. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)
Stan Mason, Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church Pastor Scott Scheel and Norma Wesoloski are concern that because of increased use this summer by families at the food pantry, it could run short during their normal busy months. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Archived Story

Edwardsburg food pantry may need your help

Published 10:37am Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Edwardsburg Emergency Fund (EEF) food pantry still has plenty of items, but with a recent surge in need this summer, it could face a shortfall during its busiest time.

Normally, the food pantry is slow during the summer months allowing it to stockpile items and funds for its busiest time of year when the weather turns cold.

Last week alone, the pantry had 71 families come through its doors. During the summer months the pantry usually averages about 15 families a day.

There doesn’t seem to be a good explanation for the recent surge, although there are several theories.

While the economy has been slowly growing over the past few years and more jobs have been created, the paychecks may be smaller and with higher utility and gas prices, families are still unable to make ends meet.

Another theory is that people used to be embarrassed to take assistance. But when the economy tanked in 2008 and the regrowth has been slow, more and more families are coming to agencies such as food pantries for assistance.

Whatever the reason, the Edwardsburg food pantry is currently meeting the needs of families in the Edwardsburg school district that it serves.

In 2011, the pantry served 431 households. That number increased to 437 in 2012 and that number is expected to increase this year.

The pantry is open at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Edwardsburg Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our Lady, the Presbyterian Church and Hope United Methodist are the three churches that have joined forces to run the operation with the help of volunteers from throughout the community.

The food pantry started on a much smaller scale many years ago and continued to grow. It expanded in 2010 to its current location at Our Lady and incorporated in order to receive non-profit status at the Edwardsburg Emergency Fund.

Supply coordinator Norma Wesoloski said that the food pantry is always looking for volunteers as well as donations of money and food.

“When the three churches united it really took off as a team effort,” Jerry Marchetti said. “Just yesterday (Monday) the volunteers that were working were from all three churches.”

The community has been very supportive of the food pantry both financially and with donations of food items. Fundraisers and food drives happen several times a year according to Wesoloski.

“There are functions throughout the community that donate to the food panty,” Rose Ann Marchetti said. “There was just a Christmas in July craft show and some of the proceeds from that came to the food pantry.”

“The schools are very involved,” Wesoloski said. “They do food drives at least twice a year for personal items.”

There are about 25 volunteers that regularly show up each month to work at the food pantry, but there is always room for more.

If you would like to donate your time contact Stan Mason, who is on the EEF board, at standmason@aol.com to volunteer. You can also call Our Lady of the Lakes Church at 669-5870 during its office hours of Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Donations of money or food can be dropped off at the pantry during its normal hours. Our Lady of the Lake is located at 24832 US-12 in Edwardsburg.

“The demand here has been increasing this summer at a time when it usually falls off,” Scott Scheel, pastor at the Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church said. “Usually this is the slowest time of people stopping by here. We are open three days a week, so to get 45 is a big number and we had 71 last week.

“About half of the donations that comes into the pantry comes in basically October, November and December. You are still getting donations, but you are hanging on the rest of the year. You give a lot of money out in March and April when heating bills really start to kick in and shutoff notices start to come. In the summer a lot of it is just food, so you are trying to make it through and have enough food.”

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