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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The Associated Churches Neighborhood Food Network is asking for donations to help with demand and restock the organization’s warehouse. Nearly 3,000 families rely on the network of pantries.

Food bank shelves stand empty

– Roger Reece is not sure exactly why the shelves are empty at the Associated Churches Neighborhood Food Network.

It could be the relentless cold and snow causing those who need the food to save it up or take more. Or maybe, he suspects, it could be because that same relentless cold and snow has canceled church services, potentially slowing the pace of donations coming through the associations’ 130 churches.

“Demand has increased lately and our donations into Associated Churches have dropped off,” he said.

Whatever the reason, the food bank’s shelves are empty, and Reece is concerned. On Wednesday, the organization sent out a news release asking for donations.

In that statement, Rev. Fred Meuter, the director of church relations for the association, used words like “dire straits” and “without food to share.”

The Associated Churches food pantry does not buy its food through the Community Harvest Food Bank. Instead, it relies on the donations from local parishes and churches.

“We usually have been blessed with the donations of in-kind product that we didn’t have to buy a whole lot. We always have to supplement a little,” Reece said. “At this point, our warehouse is extremely low and we’re buying everything.”

The organization is trying to supplement what it needs by buying produce, pasta and other items.

About 3,000 Allen County families use the neighborhood food network, according to the release.

There are 28 food pantries throughout the county, most at area churches, but a few are at neighborhood organizations such as Wellspring Interfaith Social Services, Reece said.

Those who visit the pantries are given a five-day supply of free emergency food relief in balanced meals, he said.

Community Harvest Food Bank officials declined to comment Wednesday because Executive Director Jane Avery is on leave until mid-March.

If anyone wants to make in-kind food donations to the Associated Churches Neighborhood Food Network, they can be dropped off at its warehouse at 602 E. Wayne St. Monetary donations are also welcome and can be made through with a larger donation, such as a collection from a church or business, can call Associated Churches at 422-3528 and they will pick it up, Reece said.