Dale Neas, leading Bread of Life Food Pantry to new highs.
Food pantries are a necessity to the people who depend on them. Since 2009, the Bread of Life Food Pantry has been providing families in Cinnaminson, Riverton and Palmyra nourishment.
However, in the summer, pantries may see a decrease in donations that could make it harder to regularly feed visitors.
Dale Neas, director of Bread of Life, has been with the pantry since day one back in August 2009. He is in charge of the pantry, which has served more than 600 families since the beginning.
“We haven’t missed a month of serving the community, so we are nearing 96 consecutive months,” Neas said. “That’s a pretty good record.”
The pantry, which is located at the United Methodist Church in Palmyra, distributes food on the third Saturday of each month. Donations are taken in every week, and the pantry is open on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays 7 to 9 p.m., which gives people two times to donate. Donations have been received from individuals and social groups, to the 13 local churches that also support the pantry.
“Donations have dipped in the summer, and it always seems that way,” Neas said. “People are busy, people are away a lot more, and I have to remind people that hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Thankfully, our churches have Vacation Bible School, which also donates to the pantry.”
Epworth Methodist Church recently had its VBS students donate 32 gallons of juice to the pantry, which Neas says is a”‘huge help.”
However, some food and drink items aren’t received as much as it is needed, which could be based on several reasons.
“Jelly, juice, canned fruit, baked beans, tuna fish and spaghetti sauce are items we could always use,” Neas said.
Under the leadership of Neas, a Cinnaminson resident, the pantry has a small operational staff of about eight people, which oversees the pantry. Thirteen coordinators are also involved with the churches that frequently donate.
Another issue along with the drop in summer donations is the amount of volunteer help the pantry needs for a Saturday.
“Typically, we need about 20–24 volunteers on a Saturday to help participate,” Neas said. “We need the help in carrying food to people’s cars, which could take about 12 people to do.”
The future looks bright for Bread of Life, however, which is also changing the kinds of donations to families. Certain holidays will see different foods being offered, while the pantry also enjoys giving more during the Christmas holiday.
“For Thanksgiving, we like to give a turkey for a family, with the fixings included,” Neas said. “For Christmas, we would like to give gifts to the children as well, and Easter we would give away a ham dinner. It makes you feel good inside when you can make a difference to others.” For more information regarding the Bread of Life Pantry, visit http://breadoflifepantry.webs.com.