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Providence Food Pantry continuing operations

As citizens in Indiana have been under stay-at-home orders through the coronavirus pandemic, but are now easing out of the restrictions, many in the West Terre Haute area are still in need of food security.

And Providence Food Pantry, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence and nine local church organizations, has been able to continue to address that need.

Sister Joseph Fillenwarth in the Providence Food Pantry van.

Sister Joseph Fillenwarth, director of the food pantry, said that she has seen a decrease in the amount of people who utilize the pantry, but people have been coming.

“This is a community pantry and the sisters could not do it without the support of the community,” Sister Joseph said. “The pantry has remained open each Thursday morning. We started out with 98 and have seen a decrease from that total in the past few weeks. We have heard that younger families are going to the schools for food and we pray they are!”

Many schools in the area have offered meal programs for students as they were also under stay-at-home orders after Gov. Eric Holcomb closed all schools across the state for the remainder of the academic year.

“Since God has blessed us with this marvelous building, it has made it possible for our clients to continue to choose their own food,” Sister Joseph said. “It is much slower because of the social distancing and spacing, but everyone understands and they are very patient.”

Since social distancing became the normal across the state, clients of the food pantry have had to change how they receive food at the pantry.

“The client keeps their hands on the cart and goes along with a ‘shopper/helper’ who puts the food in the box,” Sister Joseph said. “The men continue to put the clients’ food in the wagons and disinfect them when they return them. We do need more help to put the food in the boxes for the clients. If we get sufficient help there, we can help more clients with the wagons.”

Sister Joseph added the volunteers who assist at the food pantry have been wonderful throughout this dilemma.

“Praise God for our volunteers who have come each week to serve the needs of their neighbors in West Terre Haute,” she said. “But we can always use more good help! Most of our volunteers are elderly so they cannot serve at this time, but they miss the ministry!”

Since the pandemic forced a halt for everyone, Sister Joseph said the pantry has received many generous donations.

“We are grateful to the many people who have sent checks to help us continue and for the many prayers that keep us going,” she said. “We are truly blessed to have the love and support of the people in Vigo County who are with us at this time.

“We are following all the safety rules pertaining to the virus and praying all will be well for our clients and volunteers. This is God’s work and we are there to help Him feed the needy at our door.”

The pantry is located at 701 W. National Ave., West Terre Haute, and is open every Thursday from 8-10:30 a.m. For more information, call 812-535-2544 or contact Sister Joseph at jfillenw@spsmw.org.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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