Donations sought for CEFS Food Pantry

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For many low-income families, the Christmas holiday season is a tough time of year.

This year, it’s particularly difficult – with many families facing seasonal layoffs or job losses.

Many of those families have used the services of the CEFS food pantry, leaving the food supplies precariously low.

“This is a crucial time,” said Janet Wise, outreach coordinator for CEFS, which is located at 517 W. Gallatin St. in downtown Vandalia. “Much of our funding from the state ended on Oct. 31, and we won’t have any new money until next year.”

As a result, Wise is asking for donations to keep the food pantry stocked.

Among the items needed are: cereal, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, tuna, salmon, canned meats, soups (chicken noodle, vegetable and chili), cheese (in a box or jar), egg noodles, hamburger helper, biscuit mix, fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, pancake mix, syrup, combination dinners, toilet paper, diapers and paper towels.

“We do get some government commodities,” Wise said, “but we add other items to that. We accept non-perishable items – anything in a box or a can that could help refill our shelves.”

The pantry, which has been in operation for 10 years, serves nearly 300 families per month. That represents about 700 individuals. Through November, about 3,200 families (which includes about 7,700 individuals) have been helped this year.

“They’re limited to coming in once per month,” Wise said. “About half of the people we serve get food stamps, but we’ll provide food for anyone who comes in and asks for it. The amount we give them depends on the number of people in their household.

“The food pantry helps them so they can pay their other expenses – housing, medical bills and utilities.”

Donations can be dropped off at the CEFS office between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Other collection points are: Vandalia GMAC Real Estate, National Bank, Gloria’s Christian Supply and Words, Wicks & Wood.

During the holiday season, The Leader-Union and Harmon’s Market IGA also are serving as collection points for donations.