Pantry demand up in summer

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, July 22, 2012

While many people are enjoying their summers by taking vacations and playing sports, others are just trying to get by.

     To help those people, organizations like the Brookhaven Outreach Ministries exist.

     Its leader, the Rev. Jerry Durr, said during the summer people donate less food to their food pantry than they normally would. That can lead to problems later in the year when the demand is higher.

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     “The summer sees an uptick in demand for food as children are out of school and eat all their meals at home,” he said. “Schools and churches usually put on drives for us, but not over the summer.”

     Durr said rising food prices have put even more of a strain on needy families.

     Brookhaven Outreach Ministries helped 264 families in Lincoln County with food in June, which was down from the 355 they helped in May.

     Durr said they usually give a family about 60 pounds of food, which contains a nutritious balance.

     Ministry records show their busiest time of year is between October and December.

     “We usually help over 500 families during that time of year,” said Durr. “We give away winter supplies and large bags of groceries to those in need.”

     Durr said food dominations of milk, rice, beans and canned goods are needed, especially milk and rice as he said they rarely get such donations.

     “The Lord has blessed us and we haven’t had to turn anyone away due to lack of foods recently,” he said.

     If anyone is in need of assistance with food or other items for their family, Durr recommended they come by the organization’s center at the corner of North Railroad Avenue and Court Street.

     “Come in and fill out an application,” he said. “It doesn’t take long at all. Our goal is to help people who are in need.”

     Brookhaven was a food distribution point for the Mississippi Food Network that covered a seven-county region in Southwest Mississippi. It included Lincoln, Pike, Walthall, Amite, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence and Franklin counties.

     That ended in June when the Mississippi Food Network decided it would be easier to control distribution from its main office in Jackson. They now send a large truck to McComb and have surrounding counties pick up food from there.

     “The food bank here shipped out a tremendous amount of food every month to the surrounding counties,” said Durr. “But they said doing it the new way was more economical.”

     Brookhaven Outreach Ministries is also taking donations of school supplies for their annual school supply giveaway to families in need on Aug. 3. Durr said any school supplies donated would be greatly appreciated and very helpful to area families.