Food drive file photo

In this 2020 photo, St. Johns and Susannas Kitchen volunteers offload a donation at the Elkhart Salvation Army during the United Food and Fund Drive.

ELKHART — For the past year, local food pantries have faced the same challenge of trying to keep up with the demand for food assistance due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit leaders said.

And those looking to extend a helping hand can do so by dropping off nonperishable food, monetary donations and hygiene items at the United Against Hunger Food and Fund Drive next week.

The county-wide initiative is coordinated by Crossroads United Way, serving Elkhart, LaGrange & Noble Counties and the local pantries that will receive the donations.

The drive was born last year in response to pantries seeing an uptick of people needing services and that need has not yet subsided, said Matt Puro, marketing manager for Crossroads United Way.

“The need is still there,” he said. “Some of the traditional ways we’ve raised food in the past have been disrupted because of COVID so there is really a need for this food drive.”

The event will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 8. Eight drive-thru sites in Elkhart County will collect nonperishable items to benefit 12 local pantries.

“We’ll have volunteers who will take donations right from your trunk or back seat so there’s a minimal reaction,” Puro said.

All of the food donations will be evenly distributed among the 12 pantries. The participating pantries include Bristol Food Pantry, Church Community Services, Faith Mission, Family Christian Development Center, Guidance Ministries, Middlebury Food Pantry, Open Door, Salvation Army of Elkhart, Salvation Army of Goshen, St. Johns, Suzanna’s Kitchen and the Window.

Event organizers are encouraging financial donations as the most effective way to combat hunger locally. Donors will have the choice of choosing which pantry they want to give monetary donations to.

Monetary donations can be made at

Last year, the drive raised 19,000 pounds of food and organizers hope to raise just as much this year.

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