Church-run pantry nearly out of food

July 09, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

A church-run pantry in the Severna Park area has nearly run out of food to help the needy.

Food donations to the Severna Park Assistance Network, or SPAN, a pantry run by 10 of the areas churches, have steadily dwindled over the last eight weeks, said the director, Barbara Birkenheuer.

SPAN is "very, very low" on foods such as canned potatoes, canned fruits, peanut butter and jelly and canned meats such as beef stew, Ms. Birkenheuer said.

While some decrease in food donations to the pantry is normal during summer months when church members are on vacation, the recent drop is extreme, she said.

SPAN collects food from various sources the first Monday of every month, and volunteers typically collect several truckloads of food. Last Monday, however, only half of one truckload was donated, Ms. Birkenheuer said.

Also, while the needs of the homeless and others in difficult financial conditions normally decrease during the summer months -- because of the climate, the need to stay warm is not as urgent -- SPAN has noted a slight increase in needs during the last two months, the director said.

In its two years of existence, SPAN has helped more than 2,000 client families with money for fuel and electric bills, rent money to prevent eviction, prescription drugs, and food.

The organization is financed by pledges of support from churches and from donations of food and money from individuals and community organizations.

Ms. Birkenheuer said the network welcomes donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, which SPAN can store at its Benfield Boulevard location.

"We also have a volunteer with a truck who will pick up goods if people can't get them to us," she said.

People should be aware that SPAN has a freezer and so accepts donations of foods that are not necessarily canned such as hot dogs, chicken, bread and butter.

Initially organized by six churches in April 1990, the assistance network, located behind Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, has increased its pantry hours from 12 hours per week to 21 1/2 hours per week. More than 50 volunteers keep SPAN operating.

Public interest in SPAN has increased so much that the network recently began a speakers bureau made up of people who will visit churches and other organizations and summarize what SPAN does.

Those in need or wishing to make donations may contact SPAN at 647-0889.

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