Seymour church installs food pantry in park

An elderly couple down on their luck who used to eat beans for weeks now has access to a variety of foods.

Children getting off of the school bus wanting a snack can stop by and find something to tie them over until dinner.

A mother needs diapers, baby food and some personal hygiene products and can find them, too.

Since being installed in early November, the outdoor free food pantry at Westside Park on Jackson Street in Seymour has relied on donations from members of Chapel Church Seymour and the community to keep the shelves stocked.

So far, so good.

“I knew it would be used, but I didn’t realize how many people would donate outside of us,” church member Heather Lewis said.

Little Friends Day Care and Preschool in Seymour and the Seymour High School girls basketball program both did nonperishable food drives to benefit the newest pantry in town.

“It’s pretty cool because everyone (at the church) is working on it, and then people that are not associated with our church, I’ve been amazed how many people have just come there and put stuff in it and even raising money,” fellow church member Andrew Skaggs said.

The pantry is associated with According to that website, the food charity program based in Hamilton County has a mission “to provide food for our hungry neighbors with an emphasis on serving families that don’t fit the models of public assistance and traditional food pantries.”

The Feeding Families program is the corporate charity of TalentLogistiX, Tech Trades and PinPoint Resources. Business owners Mark and Lisa Hall lived with food insecurity as a young married couple with kids.

“We ate many dinners that consisted of one baked potato and a can of Dinty Moore beef stew,” the Halls said on the website. “As average Hoosiers, we know that other families face the same challenge — too much month left with not enough money.”

With more than 27,000 food insecure neighbors in their county, they realized the need is big and the solution is simple: Neighbors helping neighbors through free 24/7 confidential outdoor food pantries.

The pantries operate on the honor system “Take what you need, give what you can” and rely on the community and companies to keep nonperishable food in each of the pantries.

Along with the new pantry in Seymour, the other locations in Indiana are Arcadia, Carmel, Cicero, Fishers, Kokomo, Noblesville, Sheridan and Westfield. There also are pantries in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

Chapel Church also has a location in Noblesville and has one of the outdoor food pantries there, and Skaggs said they were asked if one was needed in Seymour.

The Seymour congregation thought a pantry would fit well in a local park, so they reached out to Seymour Parks and Recreation Department Director Stacy Findley, and she recommended Westside Park. The department has been working on improving that park, and she said the pantry would be a great addition.

Once Skaggs’ wife, Darci, posted on Facebook about the new pantry being installed in the park, she followed up with updates. Then it was determined the pantry needed its own page, so a Facebook group was created, called Westside Park food pantry.

“If there’s a specific need, we could just put it on there,” Lewis said.

Acceptable items include nonperishable food, personal hygiene products and baby food and products.

There are no restrictions, no forms to fill out and no questions asked, and there’s not even a lock on the door. If there’s something you need, take it. If you are able to donate items, place them on the shelves.