Donations are down at local food pantry, while need is rising

Just prior to opening their doors on Tuesday mornings, the staff and volunteers of a local food pantry have a short meeting and hold a prayer circle.

Their prayers always cover the people lining up outside of Community Provisions of Jackson County, 107 W. Bruce St., Seymour.

Four years ago, Chuck and Phyllis Seybold became the co-directors of Community Provisions, replacing Paul Brock, who started the pantry in 1997. Brock led the nonprofit organization until his retirement in June 2019.

Over the years, the food pantry with support from the community has served thousands of local residents, providing food to those in need. It’s not alone, as there are several food pantries in the county that remain busy year-round, including Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry, Seymour Harvest Church and The Alley.

Phyllis said there are about two dozen volunteers who help with the pantry.

“Today, we have a couple of new volunteers, and they’ll get the nickel tour of what’s done in every department,” she said.

Phyllis said volunteers prepare the bags of pantry items inside the building and place them in carts. Then the carts are taken outside for the clients to collect their bags of food.

“They’re checked to see if they’re qualified, and then they can come back every 30 days,” she said. “The most clients we’ve had come through here in one day is 99, and that’s our highest.”

Phyllis said they give out fresh produce when it’s available, which comes from grocery stores, local farmers and individuals with gardens.

Chuck said at the pantry, they get groceries in and they put groceries out. That’s the name of the game, and they try to do it in a good, Christian manner and it’s working well.

“We usually have a crowd waiting outside before we open at 10:30 a.m., and this morning, there was 20 or 25 waiting,” he said on a recent Tuesday. “Our client count is way up and has doubled due to a number of reasons.”

Last year, Community Provisions served about 10,000 individuals, but some of those are repeats, Chuck said.

“I believe that we’ll hit 12,000 this year unless things change,” he said. “The volunteers are keeping up pretty well, but the donations are not, both money and groceries.”

Currently, the pantry is in need of any nonperishables and canned goods, such as fruit, vegetables and soup. They also need spaghetti, pasta sauce, saltines, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly and Ramen noodles.

“If people would like to donate food items, Tuesdays when we’re open would be a good day, but if that doesn’t work, just call us at 812-522-7079,” Chuck said. “The same goes for those who cannot show up here to get the food, like if you’re disabled or don’t have a way to get here and have a really good reason, call that same phone number and we will deliver the food.”

Those who would like to make a monetary donation can mail it to Community Provisions Inc., 107 W. Bruce St., Seymour, IN 47274.

“The volunteers are what makes it happen, and they do such a good job,” Chuck said. “This is not about Phyllis and I, and a lot of these folks are longtime friends.”

Seymour resident Randy Brown has been volunteering at Provisions ever since the Seybolds became co-directors.

“I remember an article in the paper that said they were taking over,” Brown said. “I contacted them to say I’d like to volunteer because I knew the Seybolds from way back when he was in the Lions Club and I was in Jaycees.”

Brown said what keeps him coming back to volunteer is he’s retired from the U.S. Postal Service and needed something to do.

“After Jaycees, I didn’t get in another service organization, so this kind of filled the gap,” he said. “It’s just the way I was brought up, and my dad, if we didn’t use things, he took them to the Boys Club, and that’s the way it was instilled in me.”

Brown said he has tried to follow suit with his daughters, and both girls help out with service events whenever they can.

“I also give out candy to the kids when they’re waiting outside, and there was one outside today looking for the candy man,” he said. “Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten any of them, and they’re pretty honest about it when I ask if they’ve already been given some candy or not.”

Beth Ann Cox of Seymour has been volunteering at the pantry for about three years.

“We all kind of have a certain job here, but we do whatever is needed,” Cox said. “Today, I’m filling the carts, but the guys in the back fill the bags with canned and boxed items, and there are two bags for each client.”

She said if the items are for a large family, they will be given an extra bag with cold items, like meat, milk and eggs, added to the cart right before it goes out.

“What keeps bringing me back to volunteer is it feels good to help,” Cox said. “Also, there are a lot of good people working here and it’s enjoyable, and when you’re retired, you’ve got people to talk to.”

At a glance

What: Community Provisions of Jackson County food pantry

Where: 107 W. Bruce St., Seymour

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. Tuesdays

Phone: 812-522-7079