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Food Distribution at Clarion United Methodist Church Not Stopped by COVID-19 Restrictions

Thursday, March 19, 2020 @ 12:03 AM

Posted by Jill McDermott

love cupboard 1CLARION, Pa., (EYT) – COVID-19 may be causing a lot of changes in our lives, but it was not enough to close down the Love Cupboard Food Pantry at the First United Methodist Church in Clarion.

Food distribution took place on Wednesday as scheduled, although things were a little different.

“We had to do it outside because of the restrictions that we’re facing right now,” Howard Rhoades said through a mask that covered his nose and mouth.

“We’re trying to follow some safety principles, but we’re very pleased to do what we do.”

On the third Wednesday of every month, the church provides food to those who meet income guidelines. Not wanting to cancel this month’s distribution, they made some changes instead. Food was gathered and bagged inside and carried to those waiting outside. Those handing out the food wore masks.

“We’re expecting to serve about 70 families tonight (Wednesday, March 18),” Rhoades explained. “That will represent more than 200 people, probably 225 people.”

That’s higher than the usual average of 55 families, or 175 people – possibly due to the number of people not working because of precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Love Cupboard is part of a program called The Second Harvest out of Erie. It allows the Love Cupboard to purchase food at a greatly reduced price.

Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America, a network of food banks and food distribution programs in the United States. The membership allows Second Harvest to cooperate with other member food banks and receive food from national corporate food donors.

love cupboard 2

The Love Cupboard has recently received donations of hamburger and fish sticks that it has been able to share with those in need.

“Tonight (Wednesday, March 18) we’re passing out fresh potatoes,” Rhoades said. “We received 500 lbs. of potatoes two weeks ago. We broke those down into smaller bags, and we’re handing those out.”

According to Rhoades, they often also purchase food from local sources.

“We’re very concerned about giving balance,” he said. “We want people to be able to take home a balanced menu. We want it to include protein, cereal, and vegetables.”

“We also buy hygiene products like deodorant, toothpaste, and things of that nature. We pass out toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues and things like that. We think that is important for the health and welfare of anybody who is in need.”

You can find out more about the Love Cupboard here.

Donations are welcome. Monetary donations can be sent to the church and designated to the Love Cupboard.

“We do accept donations,” Rhoades said. “They go a long way.”

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