Monetary donations may be made by check and made payable to Food Pantry for Woodford County, Inc. and mailed to P. O. Box 1066, Versailles, KY 40383.
Volunteer opportunities are during major food drives in May, October, November and December. Other volunteer opportunities are on the first Tuesday of each month beginning at 10:00 AM and the third Wednesday of each month beginning at 8:30 AM. Other volunteer opportunities may be available by calling 859-421-1217 for Sharon Hardin, Executive Director.
The Woodford County Food Pantry began in 1992 when the Ministerial Association of Woodford County realized the need to coordinate church efforts for individuals who needed food and social service assistance. A group of volunteers under the auspices of the Ministerial Association formed the Woodford County Food Pantry in the basement of the Versailles Baptist Church. Throughout the years the food pantry has been in various locations where we were able to operate and take care of the food needs of the low-income individuals and families who were looking for food security.
The Food Pantry is an all volunteer organization supported with food and monetary donations by the community; it has never had to close due to the lack of funds or food. In 2015, we were able to serve 3,776 low-income families for a total of 7,529 individuals through three food distribution programs. We are open two days a week, with volunteers available for client interviews, client assistance, food sorting, re-stocking, and food storage. In 2015, we made governance changes to form a more diversified Board with business and community leaders and church volunteers.
Grant funding is needed to support operating expenses, including food purchases. Over the last 23 years the Food Pantry was fortunate to not have occupancy costs greater than $40/month for utilities. Now that we have moved into a new facility, our expenses have increased although our electricity is paid by the Salvation Army of Woodford County. We also have a new cargo van that was given to us for food pickup and deliveries which requires fuel, license, taxes, and maintenance. The responsibility as a property owner also brings the expense of insurance. The Food Pantry has gone from occupancy expenses of $480 annually to more than $8,600 annually.
The Food Pantry is an all-volunteer organization operated by many citizens and church members who want to make a difference. We have been in existence for 24 years, and many of the volunteers who were a part of the original organization are still part of the organization This shows their commitment and compassion for something they believe in. We serve a rural community where some residents don't realize there is a food pantry or that there is a need for one. One of the most exciting things about the Food Pantry has been the work done by students and Scout troops to continue supporting and serving the food pantry. This continues to be a true community effort.
The Food Pantry serves all of Woodford County, including the towns of Midway and Versailles and the surrounding areas. The zip codes served are 40347 and 40383. Both are rural communities with a total county population of 25,077 per the 2010 census. Woodford County land mass is 191 square miles, with a population of 25,077 made up of 86.4% white, 6.7% Hispanic, and 4.9% black.
The overall goal of the Food Pantry is (1) to help meet the immediate and emergency food needs of the at-risk families and individuals in Woodford County. Those considered at risk are low-income residents and include the working poor, individuals with disabilities or short- and long-term medical needs, senior citizens, and others facing food insecurity in our community.
In support of this overall goal, there are several supporting goals: (2) to maintain and increase local community awareness of and support for helping to meet these food needs; (3) to help support our low-income senior citizens with ongoing food assistance; and (4) to help the working-age poor who are unemployed or working for minimal wages/hours to meet emergency food needs and become or return to more independence.
To meet our overall goal of meeting immediate and emergency food needs in the community, our strategies involve high quality, compassionate management of our resources and services. As an all-volunteer organization, extensive coordination to staff our operations is needed. On the days the Food Pantry is open for our client shopping experience, it takes 10 volunteers to conduct interviews, maintain client files, restock pantry shelves, assist clients in selections, coordinate perishables, and load the clients’ cars with the grocery cart full of items they receive. On commodity days (Underserved Communities, Senior Commodities), it takes 15-20 volunteers to unload the God’s Pantry truck, sort the items, organize the items into boxes, and load into client cars or make deliveries for some seniors. Regular volunteers are needed to maintain the warehouse (collecting donated food daily, sorting, and storage, weighing, checking temperatures) and the computer data system. At all times, our goal is to provide compassionate food assistance to our neighbors.
To meet the goal of community awareness and collaboration in providing services, strategies include working with other agencies, businesses, schools, churches, civic organizations, the local Farmers Market, and individual citizens. Activities include promoting food drives, local publicity and news articles, working with schools and individual students on service projects, seeking additional food sources particularly for fresh produce and protein sources, collaborating with other local food programs (Community Dinners, Meals and Mentors) by sharing our van and perishable donations, coordinating inmate community service with the local detention center, conducting annual fund raisers for cash donations, and seeking and submitting grant applications.
To help the elderly poor with ongoing food needs, we assist each eligible senior to participate in all three of our programs (pantry, Senior Commodities, Underserved Communities). We coordinate and provide deliveries to the Senior Citizens Center and Margaret Hall (HUD assisted living), and encourage off-site community services at Daisy Hill, where several of our long-time volunteers have retired.
To help the working-age poor to meet emergency needs and become more independent, we assist each eligible client to participate in two programs (pantry, Underserved Communities). Through our interviews on each visit, we check on health and other issues, providing information on other resources, making outside referrals, and assisting where we can. Many of our working-age clients have minimal wage/hours employment and move in and out of eligibility. A particular need in our community is our growing number of Hispanic families, and currently the Food Pantry has under-participation from this group. We will be strengthening our contacts with schools (ESL, family resource center) and churches having Hispanic ministries to reach this group.
The Food Pantry’s major asset is our large number of committed volunteers: 191 volunteers contributed 8,646 hours in 2015. Our community board meets quarterly and is comprised of directors representing 17 local churches, 8 other groups (Lions Club, Kiwanis, equine industry, etc.), and ex-officio community leaders (mayors, county judge executive, state representative). Our community support and volunteer network are extensive, and we are affiliated with Feeding America, God’s Pantry, and the Kentucky Food Bank Association. Despite being an all-volunteer organization, we have a strong management team, headed by our full-time executive director and supported by 15 senior “staff” with specific responsibilities who maintain particular areas and train volunteers. We have physical resources, including our 4,500 sq. ft. building which has a warehouse, large reception area, and pantry; multiple freezers and refrigerators for perishables; office equipment; and a donated van for pick-up and deliveries. These physical resources have been donated or supported through local generosity, but we need to build our monetary donations to maintain these physical assets in good repair with upgrades as needed. As we grow our participation of Hispanic families in need, we have some connections through the schools and member churches’ Hispanic ministries, but we need to build these connections as well as have stronger direct ties to this community. We may also need to provide information to potential donors for more culturally relevant food (e.g., masa flour/tortillas v. bread).
The following indicators about services are critical in assessing our progress toward our goals: number of clients and family members served by program, particularly the demographics, the number of seniors, number of Hispanics, number of clients making only one visit (emergency needs met), number of new clients, and clients receiving information on other resources. Other indicators assess the resources available to meet the needs: number of food drives, including new ones (v. annual drives); pounds and number of items of donated foods; amount of monetary donations; year to date financial reports; number of volunteers and total hours served. We also collect data from clients during each pantry visit regarding concerns, unmet needs, and impact of food received. All of this data is entered weekly and maintained in our computerized system. Our target is that 98% of the clients will have their immediate food needs met, and that 20% of the clients served will have their food needs met in one visit.
Progress on the overall client numbers, food drives, and donated foods are reported to our board quarterly by our executive director, along with oral and written comments and analysis on progress. Our treasurer, a CPA, provides quarterly financial reports as well. More complete data analysis is conducted every six months as part of reporting to United Way. We use the data to make improvements for high quality, compassionate management of our resources and services.
During the last ten years, Woodford County has experienced an increase in Hispanic/Latino families, particularly those with children under age 10. However, in 2014-15, our food pantry served only 23 Hispanic/Latino clients, compared to the 2015 Hispanic population of 1,680 (6.8% of our county population). The Hispanic/Latino children under age 18 now represent 11% of all Woodford County children. Looking only at younger children, 14.3% of all Woodford County children below age 10 live in Hispanic/Latino families. Interim milestones are to increase the number of Hispanic/Latino clients to 30 by 2017 and by 10 clients per year thereafter until we are closer to the estimated 100+ Hispanic/Latino families, generally among the working poor.
In 2015, the Food Pantry was able to serve 3,776 low-income families for a total of 7,529 individuals through our three programs. Of our non-duplicate 1,221 clients participating in pantry shopping, 205 (16.7%) only had to visit one time, meaning that emergency needs were met and they could continue without Food Pantry assistance. The net effect is that we are meeting the emergency food needs of the majority of our low-income residents.
Accomplishments in 2015-16 to date have included separately incorporating as a non-profit, setting up a board with wider community representation beyond the local churches, moving into our new building, increasing our warehouse and perishable storage, upgrading our computer data system, reorganizing to access and maximize the new Kroger Perishable Foods program, and increasing our Senior Commodities program from serving 96 seniors to 144. However, we are learning how to be an independent organization with capital assets (building, van) and how to address our monetary needs to maintain these assets. 2015 has been a major year of learning for us as an organization.
We have identified several potential barriers affecting the participation of Hispanic/Latino families. The most obvious one is the language barrier, where parents, particularly the mothers, have little to no English and limited skills in reading or writing in either English or Spanish. Several of our local churches have after-school tutoring programs to help the children with homework because these parents want their children to do well in school but are unable to assist in homework. A second barrier is that a number of the parents are without a social security card (may be on a green card or even undocumented), although many of the children, particularly the younger ones, have social security cards because they were born in the United States. (The Hispanic/Latino parents currently participating at our food pantry all have social security cards and speak adequate English, similar to our African American and other low-income parents.) Given that there are some restrictions from our external food sources, our food pantry may need to serve parents without documentation primarily from our own donated foods, meat and vouchers for milk and eggs. Other barriers are transportation and the timing of our programs. Low-income Hispanic families that do have a car usually do not have it available during the day due to the father’s use for low-wage employment, while most of our services are made available during the day to enable low-income seniors to access our food pantry, as well as to accommodate the large number of our volunteers who are also senior citizens and have trouble traveling at night. We have identified several people who can serve as an advisory group to begin addressing these concerns.
The Food Pantry is open two days a
week and serves an average of 110 clients
a month through a shopping, self-selection experience for clients. Clients are screened by
Food Pantry volunteer staff for proof of Woodford
County residence, low-income, and Social Security numbers for the entire
household. Clients receive donated dry and canned foods, breads, pastries, and sometimes meat, fruits, vegetables and other perishables. In addition, they receive foods purchased by the Food Pantry for the clients, such as meats, cheese, crackers, cereal, margarine, milk, and eggs as well as government commodities. During each visit, clients are assisted in filling a grocery cart with items according to family size, and come away with a full cart providing an estimated 7-10 days of food. Clients can only come to the Food Pantry once a month for a total of six
times a year for full access to all of the food items listed above. However, they
may come every month to receive government commodities. In 2015, this Food Pantry
distributed 1,127 boxes of food to 407 different families with 980 members. Due to some families being
served more than once, a total of 2,623 individuals were given food; 164 came only one time. These same clients received 113,560.42 pounds of food for 94,637 meals.
On the third Wednesday of each
month, 144 food boxes are distributed as part of the Food for Under Served Counties-Woodford. God's Pantry delivers the commodity foods for this program and the
clients receive commodities, as well as frozen meats, breads and pastries donated by Sam's Club or Costco. The clients can also receive fresh produce items. The clients
receive large boxes of food once a month on a first-come, first-served basis. The requirements for this food
distribution are Woodford County residency and low income. For 2015, 96,843 pounds of food
was distributed for this program to 3,481 individuals (duplicate due to multiple visits), equivalent to 80,701 meals.
As a member agency of God's Pantry Food Bank, we are always seeking ways to reach more clients. Our goal is to reach those clients who are not seeking our assistance due to embarrassment or pride. There are many senior citizens who are embarrassed to seek assistance because they had survived the "Great Depression" and they had raised gardens and lived off livestock and made do with what was available or did without. Or they lived during war times when they had to deal with ration cards. They still have that sense of self-preservation. Either they take care of themselves or they do without. As we address the issues facing younger family members, we ask about other family members and if there are others they know of who may need our assistance. We ask them to let any family member, neighbor, or friend who may need help to contact us and also share information about our food programs. We are currently signing up about 20 new clients a month. There are many new clients who have just moved to this county and a neighbor or friend has referred them to the food pantry. We are also working to increase participation for our Hispanic/Latino families in Woodford County.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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