Lynne Saunders founded Papa’s Pantry, a multifaceted Christian assistance program that focuses on providing food to families in need, and she said the organization is in urgent need of donations to meet an increased need for food in the community.
“We need everything,” Saunders said. “Really, we are out of just about everything. If we’re not out, we’re nearly out.”
Saunders said Papa’s Pantry always anticipates an annual increase in need starting in October, but this year the demand is larger than expected and the organization’s shelves are already becoming bare.
“What I have learned and why I think our phones are blowing up, the government has, and without notification or warning, decreased everybody’s food stamps across the board, decreased the amount that they get. So what happens is, on a certain day each month, they assume a certain dollar amount that the family qualifies for is loaded on what is similar to a credit card; it’s called an EBT card,” Saunders said. “What happened was, when they went to check out, that money is not there as promised.”
Everything from breakfast and dinner foods, to bathroom necessities and financial donations — Saunders said Papa’s Pantry needs it all.
“It’s already, normally, a very busy time of year, it’s just on steroids,” Saunders said of the increased need for food in the community. “It’s always a busier time; winter months are expensive for families. They’re buying bigger coats for their kids, they’re heating their houses, they’ve got the holidays coming up; really there’s an annual cycle with the food need and expectation.”
Saunders said if the food stamps had been decreased in the spring, for example, it probably wouldn’t have been as big of a “jolt” to families.
“I think that the combination of the timing and the holidays and colder weather, in combination with this food stamp stuff, that’s what’s sending people in,” she said.
The organization has asked for primarily non-perishable food donations, listing many examples on their website in a plea for help from the community.
“So really, our request is, if it comes in a grocery store, we would sure love to have it donated. We always take monetary donations like most nonprofits do, but we use the dollars to buy the nutritional meat, the cheese, milk, important things,” Saunders said.
Things like cereal, oatmeal, cereal bars, soups, chili, ramen noodles, canned pasta, rice, beans and mayonnaise are among the items the pantry needs. Saunders said they are also accepting some produce like apples and potatoes, and other items specifically for Thanksgiving.
Specific food needs are listed on the organization’s website, at PapasPantry.org. Under the “Upcoming Events and News” header, the organization has posted lists of “Urgent food needs” and “Special Thanksgiving needs.”
Saunders said the organization uses monetary donations to purchase perishable items like produce, meats and dairy products week-to-week, and said monetary donations are also greatly needed to fill the food void made by the increased demand.
“When we’re looking to the public for donations, we’re looking for either the non-perishable food items or really anything that comes from the grocery store,” she said. “Even dog and cat foods, now food stamps don’t pay for that, shampoos and toothpaste, soap, laundry detergent, tin foil, paper goods, toilet paper. Food stamps don’t cover those sorts of things.”
Saunders said donations can be dropped off during their regular hours at the organization’s Woodstock location, at 6551 Commerce Parkway, Suite 200, in Woodstock. Online donations can be made at http://papaspantry.org/donate-now/.
Papa’s Pantry is open Mondays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Although the organization has locations in Woodstock and Canton, Saunders said donations should go to the Woodstock location to be checked and sorted.
If a church or other group wants to do a food drive for Papa’s Pantry, Saunders asked the group “please call ahead” to schedule a day for dropping off the donations, so volunteers can plan to be there for the delivery.
The Woodstock location of Papa’s Pantry can be reached at (770) 591-4730, and the Canton branch can be reached at (770) 479-0729.