By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church sees rising needs in the community reflected in the number of people coming to the church’s food pantry.
The church served 137 families in 2009 and 156 in 2010.
This year, the church provided food to 36 families through the end of March, which is more served than previous years in the first quarter, said Lissa Qualls, who oversees the food pantry operation for the church.
“I have noticed that this March, we’re putting it out a lot faster than in the past,” Qualls said.
Ordinarily, demand rises in the summer — when children are out of school and families must provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for their children. In March, people get tax refunds, which eases the budget, Qualls said.
Stephen Samples, St. Matthew’s pastor, speculates the reason for the increased demand can be found at the pump.
“Gas prices are catching up with people,” he said.
The church aims to provide enough food to feed a family of four for two days, Qualls said.
“We never turn a person away for food,” Qualls said. “We do ask them to come only once a month.”
She said most of the food provided is canned goods, and she tries to be cognizant that some are unable to cook, so she includes such items as Vienna sausages, tuna, potted meat and the like.
Qualls said she notices a lot of people will only come one time. Whatever reason brought them to ask for help is temporary, and they are working to handle it, she said.
Food for the pantry shelves comes from church members and from the Horn of Plenty community pantry, which holds two food drives a year. Qualls said she goes to Horn of Plenty as needed and shops for food, as well.
“It is important enough to us, there is a line item in our budget for the food pantry,” Qualls said.
St. Matthew’s is one of many community food pantries that benefits from Horn of Plenty’s food drives.
The 21 agencies involved with Horn of Plenty are Abundant Life, Department of Human Services, Drummond Pantry, First Baptist Church, Saturday Manna Feeding Site (First Presbyterian Church), Garriott Road Church of Christ, Head Start, Hope Outreach, House of Prayer, Living Word Fellowship, North Garland Church of Christ, Our Daily Bread (St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church), Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church, Salvation Army, St. Gregory’s Catholic Church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Sandra Beasley Independent Living Center, Shepherd’s Cupboard (Bethany United Methodist Church), University Place Christian Church, YWCA Women’s Crisis Center and Zoe Bible Church.