Providence Food Pantry going strong
The setup inside the building makes it feel like you’re walking into a “Mom-and-Pop” grocery store, with a check-in area, and aisles for patrons to walk through and eye all the food set up perfectly on tables.
The tables separating the aisles are stacked with boxes of pasta, cans of produce, bread and more. There is an area specifically geared for meat products, and a check out spot near the front entrance with volunteers prepared to help carry boxes to vehicles.
That’s the way Providence Food Pantry Director Sister Joseph Fillenwarth and all of the volunteers want it to be: Just like a grocery store, only for those in need of further assistance.
It’s been almost a full calendar year since Providence Food Pantry, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., moved to its new location.
In April 2013, the pantry moved from its original location – the basement of the former St. Leonard’s Catholic school building – to its new facility, 707 W. National Ave., West Terre Haute, Ind.
Accurate Insulation owners Keith and Jamie Richey offered use of the building to the pantry for only the cost of utilities.
Funds from the annual St. Mary’s Village Church Hunger Bust Fun Run/Walk also help pay for utilities. The ministry is financed entirely by donations from area civic groups and a host of partner churches.
“It is so wonderful that all the churches work together,” Sister Joseph said.
According to Sister Joseph, approximately 32 volunteers help with distributing the food weekly.
“Everybody works together,” Sister Joseph said. “And every penny (donated) goes for food.”
Sister Brendan Harvey founded the pantry in 1994. Sister Joseph is now in her eighth year as director for the facility.
Several area organizations also help by donating food to the pantry, including the West Vigo IGA – which Sister Joseph said also assists with “many special orders, at a good price,” among other food items.
Sister Joseph said Catholic Charities of Terre Haute assists by providing breads, sweets and produce at no cost, while also offering special prices for other foods.
Sister Joseph added Helping Hands of West Terre Haute also provides the pantry with meat products and produce among other items weekly.
She said Helping Hands donated $31,435 of food products to the pantry last year and has donated $198,148.31 to the pantry since 2003.
In addition, local schools also contribute to the pantry.
On average, the pantry assists approximately 300-plus West Terre Haute families monthly. Each family has the chance to receive assistance once a month. Families must provide their latest utility bill to prove they live in West Terre Haute.
Last year, the pantry served 3,691 families and more than 13,000 individuals.
“God wants us here,” Sister Joseph said.
The pantry is open on Thursdays only, from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
For more information about Providence Food Pantry, call 812-535-2544, log on to spsmw.org/providence-food-pantry, or write to Sister Joseph Fillenwarth at 1 Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., 47876.
Monetary donations are also accepted online at www.SistersofProvidence.org, and designating Providence Food Pantry.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.