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Supplementing citizens

The Demopolis Food Pantry began in the 1980s, and now serves around 200 people each Wednesday morning. The pantry is located at the Temple B’Nai Jeshurun on North Main Avenue.

Last year, the Food Pantry expanded its operation to include the front room of the former Temple, and the quarters were improved with the addition of heat and air conditioning units.

The ROTC program of the high school held a great food drive last fall for the pantry. The EMS service at the hospital also held a tremendous month-long food drive, along with the Demopolis schools’ and the Boy Scouts’ annual drives, enabled the pantry to skip almost two months of purchasing food from the West Alabama Food Bank in Tuscaloosa. This amounted to a saving of about $2000 for the pantry.

The main source of food is still the West Alabama Food Bank in Tuscaloosa, which costs 16 cents per pound for the food gotten there.

The pantry is a non-profit clearinghouse that solicits and collects extra food from supermarkets, restaurants, manufacturers, wholesale businesses, farms and USDA commodities. After the Tuscaloosa agency, the Demopolis Food Pantry is largest agency receiving food from the West Alabama Food Bank.

During 2005, 105,069 pounds of food were brought back through a total of 18 trips.

The pantry was founded after a need was seen for a food program for local residents who were not eligible for help with existing food distribution programs. Most of the pantry’s clients are elderly or disabled, and all meet USDA income guidelines.

The pantry served a total of 9,946 clients in 2005, up from 8,584 the previous year. Participation in the pantry by churches and groups in Demopolis has grown during the last year.

“We always need volunteers help. We love to have new people to help anyway they can,” said Byrd Rish, Food Pantry coordinator.

“The community can always bring food by, or leave it at the Trinity Parrish House. We also need brown paper grocery bags. There is always something to do here,” Rish continued.

Although financial support continues to be a major concern, generous contributions by a number of churches, clubs and organizations have enabled the pantry to continue its work in the area.