Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 18, 2014

Westport Christian Church feeding the hungry

By Amanda Browning Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — WESTPORT – The Westport Christian Church (WCC), also known as “The Port,” has been holding a twice-weekly food giveaway for some time and will soon be doing even more to combat hunger among local families.

The need for supplemental nutrition has been growing locally and the WCC has actively been making plans to grow their programs offering relief. WCC has come to an agreement with Gleaner’s Food Bank and Feeding America. The groups have partnered to fight hunger and give necessary nourishment to local people through Gleaner’s Mobile Food Pantry program.

Currently, The Port’s regular food giveaway is held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday and Friday, and usually offers fruits, vegetables, bread and baked goods, some canned food and other dried foods.

WCC serves approximately 90 families a week from six nearby counties. The church asks for nothing other than the number of people in the home. Families from Decatur, Bartholomew, Franklin, Ripley, Jennings and Shelby counties have regularly attended the giveaways.

The majority of the food given out by The Port is donated by a local business in Greensburg, but WCC preacher Mike Bartlett said the church is currently in negotiations to potentially get donations from other sources as well.

The impact of the weekly food giveaways has been seen by many. One senior told the church they often had to choose between food and medicine. Thanks to the weekly giveaway, that senior is now able to reliably get both. Many families have reported being genuinely helped by the extra food supplementing what they were able to purchase on their own. In addition to the help provided by the regular giveaways at WCC, monthly visits providing a wider range of food items will soon start.

Beginning Jan. 29, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Gleaner’s Food Bank mobile pantry truck will be at the Westport Christian Church to distribute food to those in need. The mobile food pantry will be making a once a month stop at the church to offer food to as many as 200 families in a single day. Bartlett said the truck can carry thousands of pounds of food at a time.

The mobile pantry will offer items such as frozen meats, some dairy items, canned food and other non-perishable items, such as macaroni or beans. Bartlett said there may also be some breads and cereals. Those behind the program realize that access to a food bank may be a challenge for many and the mobile pantry program made 252 visits to counties in need last year, bringing supplemental nutrition to those who may not have otherwise received it.

To receive food from the mobile pantry, one need only arrive at the church and receive a number so clients can be served in order of appearance. Those receiving food will need to bring their own bags or boxes, as none will be provided. The only thing asked of clients is the number of people in the household falling into the following age categories: 0-5, 6-17, 18-64, and 64 and over.

Bartlett said the church will likely need about 20 volunteers to help staff the line at the truck. Anyone willing to help distribute food from the truck must be a Westport resident, over the age of 18 and must call either Mike or Ronda Bartlett prior to Jan. 29 to make arrangements.

The Westport Christian Church is located at 102 West Mulberry Street in Westport. Mike and Ronda Bartlett can be reached at 812-591-3807. Anyone interested in more information about either the bi-weekly food giveaway at The Port, or the monthly visit from the Gleaner’s mobile pantry may contact the church. Any local business or individual interested in donating items for the bi-weekly food giveaway should also contact Mike or Ronda.

Contact: Amanda Browning 812-663-3111 x7004; amanda.browning@greensburgdailynews.com