Project Homestead Food Pantry holding its own

Staff Writer

Project Homestead Food Pantry services more than 800 individuals in the West Point and Clay County area providing groceries to those in need.
The summer months have usually meant lean times for the food pantry and its clients, but this year, in spite of COVID-19, things have been going very well.

"We lost a lot of volunteers in the beginning," Jane Scott, director of the Project Homestead Food Pantry, said. "Many were of an age to be wary of the corona virus, some had health issues and it was understandable. But the miracle was that for everyone who had to leave us, someone else had been furloughed from work, was home from college, wanted some thing meaningful to do, and they stepped in to help."

For a while, donations from Walmart had stopped, also due to shortages caused by the virus. But. Walmart is once again a partner to help feed hungry people in Clay County. Scott was pleased to know they were back on the team to fight hunger.

"i had worried for a while," Scott said. "I knew children were home from school, and would be at home for an undetermined amount of time. That's when I heard from an angel. Martha Allen, with Extra Table, got in touch with me to see if we could use some whole milk. What is one thing every household with children needs? Milk. It could not have come at a better time."
Extra Table has been donating 45 cases of milk each week to Project Homestead Food Pantry. In addition, when they have been available, Extra Table has also donated eggs.
"It was like Christmas for these families." Scott said. "I cannot thank Martha Allen and Extra Table enough for what they are doing for our clients. Usually by July the bags of groceries we provide do get a little light. I cannot express how grateful I am to everyone who is helping us."

Normally the schools do a spring push to collect canned food donations after the students return from spring break. That didn't happen this year with school not resuming. Scott had truly wondered how the pantry would be able to continue to feed hungry people.

"We have had many financial donations made," Scott said. "Usually in the summer, everyone is on vacation, the churches are doing Vacation Bible School, the schools are out for the summer, and we tend to slip people's minds. But this year, the outpouring of support has truly been amazing."
The PHFP has helped families with emergency food during the pandemic.

For those who come to the food pantry each week to pick up their bags, there are some rules.
"You have to have a facial covering," Scott said. "Everyone has to remain six feet apart. That goes for our volunteers, as well. We have people come who have no business being out, but they have to have food, and we do our best to have our facility as safe for them as possible. We haven't had any issues with anyone not wanting to comply. Some of our client have health issues and we want them to feel safe coming here."

Scott said she feels that there will be more people coming in to fill out applications after the federal addition to unemployment checks end.
"We don't know what may happen after the end of July," Scott said. "There is no way for us to know what the future will bring for the families here in Clay County. But we will be here to help those who need us."

Project Homestead Food Pantry always appreciates donations of canned foods. There are items that are continuously needed.
"People don't think about donating baby food, but we can always use it," Scott said. "Boost and Ensure for our elderly clients. Cereals, especially now that we have milk, and peanut butter. We give peanut butter to every household. It has great nutrition and everyone loves it."
PHFP takes applications Monday, 9 - 10 a.m. and distributes food to its clients Tuesday and Thursday 9 - 11 a.m.