Anchor House delivering food to clients; mobile pantry coming Tuesday


One day, food pantry clients weren’t allowed inside Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, so volunteers handed food to them at the door.

Three other days, Executive Director Megan Cherry loaded boxes of bagged food into the nonprofit organization’s van and made deliveries to nearly 160 families.

On Thursday, members of the Seymour Noon Lions Club; her husband, Ryan Cherry, a Brownstown Police Department officer; and Seymour Police Department Officer Ben Miller helped deliver food.

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Today, employees of SpaceGuard products are helping with the effort. On Thursday, Lions Club members will return.

There have been a lot of changes and adjustments in a short period of time, but that’s what people have come to expect with the ongoing coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the first word that comes to mind is overwhelming. We have such an overwhelming need for food. There’s so much food insecurity in our community,” Cherry said.

“But I also feel blessed that we are in such a place to be able to help the community the way we do,” she said. “You have to be flexible. You have to learn to roll with changes, which is difficult sometimes for clients and for volunteers, so everybody just has to be very open-minded and thinking, ‘This is somewhere we’ve never been before. How do we go forward and best serve everybody, keep everybody safe, be smart about it?’”

Fortunately, clients have been receptive to the changes.

“Some of them are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their food, which is understandable because everybody needs the food,” Cherry said. “It’s just we have such a long list, we’re doing our best to work toward it and try and serve everyone we can.”

Volunteers have adapted, too.

“I’m very thankful Anchor House is in the position it is to be able to help the community like this and that we’ve had such great support from other businesses and agencies in the community reaching out, ‘How can we help? Can we deliver?’” Cherry said. “We couldn’t do the amount and the volume that we do without the volunteer help. We don’t have the staff to support that.”

On the first pantry day after the state began encouraging people to practice social distancing by keeping 6 feet away from others, Cherry said they served 80 clients.

“We decided not to let people come in and shop, just do a door handout, but the more we thought about it, the more it was still putting the people at risk that are waiting outside in line,” she said. “The fact is that the need is great for this in the community, they are lined around the door, so the people are still kind of cross-contaminating.”

Cherry then determined delivering food was the better option because volunteers would be in a safe, closed-off area to bag and box the food, and those delivering would wait outside to have the food placed in their vehicles. No more than eight people would be allowed inside the pantry at a time.

While making deliveries, volunteers place the bags of food on the porch or at the front door and knock on the door or ring the doorbell, and the client takes the food into their home. That way, there’s no close contact.

Deliveries are made during the regular pantry hours, and clients are asked to be at home because some of the food needs to be put in the freezer.

Seymour Noon Lions Club President Rosy Jennings said members were glad to help Thursday because they can’t meet right now since gatherings are limited to 10 people.

“Before we were all kind of quarantined, we were having one of our board meetings, and we realized there was going to be a need in the community, and we tossed around ideas of what we could do,” she said. “Because we help out with Anchor House and the other food pantries in town, we knew this would be a major issue that we could help with.”

Assisting the pantry aligns with the Lions Club motto, “We serve.”

“One of our mission statements is to help feed the hungry, so this ties right in with ‘We serve’ and we’re meeting one of our missions,” Jennings said. “It makes our club realize that we need to pull for the community when needed, and it’s a wonderful group of people, and that’s the reason you have a club is to serve our community, so we put our words in action whenever we can.”

Starting April 1, another change will go into effect at Anchor House. Clients will only receive one delivery for the month. Currently, people can come up to two times a month.

“It won’t be a month’s worth of food, but it will be two times worth of them coming here,” Cherry said. “It’s about six days worth of food total per family.”

To be added to the food distribution list, call 812-522-9308 or text 812-216-2516. Provide name, address, phone number and if you will be home for the delivery.

“Clearly, we’ve seen an increase in the number of calls for people that are not able to get out,” Cherry said. “A lot of elderly people that are higher risk, I personally have delivered to a lot of people that are on oxygen, things like that, that definitely don’t need to be out. The need is definitely there.”

When the virus concerns settle down, Cherry said delivering to the elderly who can’t get out may continue.

“I think this is a time that we just need to be innovative and work as a community together and figure out how we can best serve everybody because this is uncharted territory for everybody,” she said.

She also realizes people have been hit hard economically with jobs and are unable to provide.

“I had a call from a lady, ‘I haven’t been to the pantry in five years, but I’m a waitress out of work,’” Cherry said. “Those are the kind of people that we’re going to see, new groups of people coming out to get the service that haven’t because the need is there.”

Having enough food for clients is a concern, too.

“Donations right now from the grocery stores have been down,” Cherry said, as stores have struggled to keep shelves stocked because of the influx of people buying food to have while they stay home.

“We have to make sure that we are careful with our inventory to last,” she said. “Even when we order the food, is the supply chain going to be there to give it to us?”

Fortunately, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. is working with Anchor House to provide what’s needed.

As a bonus, Gleaners is bringing a semitrailer to the Cummins Seymour Engine Plant overflow parking lot along East Fourth Street from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Anchor House is providing volunteers to distribute food to Jackscon County residents in a drive-thru format.

“They are prepared to serve 600 households,” Cherry said. “I don’t know how many they will get because it’s just a two-hour time frame that they are going to be here.”

The shelter side of Anchor House has been impacted, too. The seven families with children staying in the apartments are asked to stay in quarantine as much as possible and are only allowed to leave for essential business, which includes going to and from work.

“We’re trying to give them more food from (the pantry) so they have less of a need to go out and get those things because our shelter residents go to the pantry once a week,” Cherry said. “Instead of them coming over here every week and getting food, we’re preparing more and delivering it to them.”

Each family has a separate laundry day, and staff members sanitize the machines after each visit. Also, common interaction, like on the playground, is not allowed, and the only visitor allowed is a home-based caseworker.

“It’s a big operation to try and keep going,” Cherry said. “We’re just doing our best to try to keep everybody as socially distant as possible.”

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Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour is delivering food to clients.

Starting April 1, that will change to once-a-month distribution. Clients will still receive the same amount of food as if they were coming twice a month, just distributed in one delivery per month instead of two.

To be added to the food distribution list, call 812-522-9308 or text 812-216-2516. Provide name, address, phone number and if you will be home for the delivery.

Anyone interested in donating food or funds to help Anchor House serve those in need can call 812-522-9308 or visit

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What: Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. mobile food pantry

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Cummins Seymour Engine Plant overflow parking lot on East Fourth Street, Seymour

Who: All Jackson County residents are welcome; distribution will be rain or shine


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