Buchanan nonprofit creates food pantry to feed community

Published 6:36 pm Monday, February 14, 2022

Correction: In an earlier publication of this article, 1ARK’s food pantry was mistakenly referred to as a food bank. We regret the error and are happy to correct it.

BUCHANAN — A local nonprofit organization is doing its best to address food insecurity in
Michiana.

1ARK is a nonprofit organization founded by Buchanan residents Michael and Deanna Salisbury with the goal of assisting those with food insecurities via its own food pantry.

The couple commutes to Milford Food Bank in Milford, Indiana twice per month to stock up on food and other items to bring back to their own food pantry, located in the garage of their home.

After sorting the items, the Salisburys and volunteers deliver food to those in need and welcome community members to come to their home to pick up food in-person. 1ARK also distributes goods to organizations such as Spero House, 603 N. 2nd St., Niles, Buchanan’s Little Free Pantries and more. In addition to food, 1ARK offers items including comforters, makeup, pajamas, socks and more.

A retired Marine veteran, Michael and his wife Deanna were compelled to help those in need after assisting a homeless veteran a few years ago. With the pandemic hindering planned events, the couple decided to create 1ARK and establish a food pantry to make sure community members battling food insecurity will be fed.

“Helping the homeless opened my eyes,” Michael Salisbury said. “Those who are homeless surprisingly have more heart than those who have. People forget that they’re supposed to care for one another.”

Salisbury recalled a day where he and his wife provided a family of four with a carload of food.

“There was a mother, father, a little boy and a newborn baby girl,” he said. “We loaded the car and the boy goes up and tugs on mom’s sleeve and says ‘mom, we can eat tonight?’ That was the best ‘thank you’ we ever got and it wasn’t even a ‘thank you.’”

The couple estimates they feed 25 to 70 families and have distributed roughly $1.5 million worth of food since starting the pantry eight months ago.

“We don’t ask for life stories,” Salisbury said. “We don’t want them to have to fill out paperwork. We could care less what their situation is or how they got there. We don’t have item limits. We agreed we were going to feed families and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

“Mike has been a true friend and helped me with my house and being able to get around,” said community member Frank Fabiano. “The help he gives the community and veterans is unbelievable.”

According to Michael, the name for their nonprofit was inspired by the comedy film “Bruce Almighty.”

“We had been throwing names back and forth,” he said. “I was sitting in the living room and Bruce Almighty was on. When Bruce was talking to god toward the end, god said ‘The Ark stood for one act of random kindness.’ That’s exactly what we’re doing with our food pantry. It only takes one small act of kindness to change someone’s week, day, month or life.”

The Salisburys know first hand how much an act of kindness can change someone. A 2011 fire on Christmas day decimated the Salisbury family home. Before they could give in to despair, the Salisburys found themselves comforted and supported by friends and community members.

“There really wasn’t anything for us,” Salisbury said. “If our friends hadn’t stepped up, we would have been in trouble. We always vowed that when we were able to, we would not turn a blind eye to people in need.”

While the couple is happy to support the community, it believes more can be done. The Salisburys are in the process of becoming a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit and aim to one day move the food pantry from their home to a more spacious location.

“Working out of our garage works, but we’re looking to get a building,” Salisbury said. “That way the food pantry can be in a climatized environment.”

They are also seeking donations to purchase a trailer to allow for more space to transport food.
“There’s only so much you can put in a pickup truck,” Salisbury said. “We’re hoping to get funds or a trailer and things so we can help people out. … Being retired on a fixed income limits what we can do and how many people we can help.”

Readers interested in volunteering or donating can contact 1ARK at (269) 944-7974 or by messaging its Facebook group. Donations can also be made via Cash App at $DeannaSalisbury1 or PayPal at paypal.com/paypalme/DeannaSalisbury.

“If you know someone who is struggling or not making ends meet for their family, ask them to contact us,” he said. “If they cannot come out here, we will get it to them someway, somehow.”