ELKHART — Food pantries are begging for just about everything these days.
That’s what Bob Fowler said outside the Food Bank of Elkhart County on Tuesday, Jan. 21, as he helped load boxes of frozen food into his vehicle.
“Meat is the number one thing people request,” said Fowler, a codirector at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry at the First Brethren Church of New Paris.
The Food Bank of Elkhart County parked a refrigerated truck outside its headquarters at 907 Oakland Ave. in Elkhart on Tuesday and handed out 6,084 pounds of frozen meat and 842 pounds of other frozen food, such as vegetables, seafood and desserts, to 19 local food pantries and sites that serve hot meals.
“We have beef, pork, chicken, breakfast meats — good meat,” said Alexander Williams, warehouse manager at Church Community Services. “The pantries love it.”
Church Community Services opened the food bank in April to stock the shelves of 42 agencies in Elkhart County.
“I’m just happy that we can be in the position to help so many pantries and hot meal sites with protein, and that’s the benefit of having a food bank in Elkhart County,” said Rod Roberson, executive director at Church Community Services.
Meat is a hot commodity at food pantries, so many jumped at the chance to stock their freezers with protein, Williams said. In the first three hours of distribution, the food bank gave out 4,328 pounds of meat and almost 700 pounds of other frozen food donated by area retail stores.
“I think it’s real good for the community,” said Jimmie Norman, a volunteer picking up food for Greater Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church just a few blocks from the food bank. “It really helps out a lot of people who really need it.”
Fowler ended up taking four boxes of frozen chicken, four boxes of pork and two big boxes of assorted frozen meals back to the food pantry in New Paris. The pantry serves about 78 families a month, he said.
“The need is great,” he said. “We serve a lot of working poor. A lot of our patrons have jobs, but they’re either low paying, or they work part-time. We have a lot of seniors on fixed incomes, and they can’t stretch the dollar. We’ve been doing this for five years, and the need has not dropped. It’s still there.”
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.