FOLEY, Alabama — While there is talk of bringing back some non-essential businesses by the beginning of May, across the state, local food pantries continue to serve those in need across Baldwin County.
“Over the last month, 30 percent of the families who have come in asking for help are families that have never been to Prodisee Pantry before,” said Deann Servos, executive director for the Spanish Fort-based organization. “It is truly an unprecedented thing we are seeing.”
Prodisee Pantry continues to distribute food from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday. In its first four weeks of distribution, the organization distributed nearly 4,100 food units, that’s over 80 tons of groceries, Servos said.
“We are continuing to receive transfer trucks full of food to distribute,” she said. “Right now, we are transitioning more toward fresh produce and frozen foods, because we’ve found that it is easier to access than canned food items.”
In addition to their normal supplier, Feeding the Gulf Coast, Servos said they are looking for alternative sources such as local farmers.
“We don’t want anyone to throw away or plow under food that could be used to feed those who would otherwise go hungry,” Servos said. “We are asking that before they do that, farmers can bring the food to us. They can donate it or, if we can use it, we will offer to buy it from them.”
Prodisee is continuing to ask the public for monetary donations, which can be done online at prodiseepantry.org/donate, by mail at P.O. Box 7403, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, or call 251-626-1720 for more information on how you can donate.
“Our community has responded with donations that have allowed us to continue to distribute food to those in need in Baldwin County,” Servos said, “and I want to thank the community for their continued support at this time.”
Volunteers are also busy at the Christian Service Center in Gulf Shores, handing out food from the center’s pantry and offering rental assistance to residents on Pleasure Island.
“We’re staying busy,” said CSC President Linda Chappelle. “We’re doing what we can to keep the food pantry stocked and meet everyone’s needs while maintaining social distancing.”
Publicity Chairman Robbie Kepec said while donations have increased, the demand they are seeing has been up to quadruple the normal rate.
“Normally we’re seeing five or so clients at the food pantry,” she said, “now we’re seeing 20. We’re still able to purchase food from ‘Feeding the Gulf Coast’ and we are having to dig into our reserves to make purchases, but we can still go for a while on what we have.”
Chappelle and Kepec said they are continuing to conduct screenings over the phone and those who need assistance are encouraged to call before they come so that the food pantry can be alerted they are coming.
The office, located at 317 Dolphin Ave. in Gulf Shores, remains open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday to accept food and monetary donations. Monetary donations can also be mailed to P.O. Box 882, Gulf Shores, AL 36547. Call 251-968-5256 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
“We are 100 percent volunteer,” Kepec said, “so all of the money we receive goes to purchase food and to help with rent.”
Phyllis Beam, executive director, Catholic Social Services, says they are continuing to utilize the George P. Thames Adult Activity Center on East Chicago Street in Robertsdale to serve families from Robertsdale Elementary School through the CSS Project Reach backpack program.
“In the last month we have helped over 200 families,” Beam said. “We just took everything we had and packed it up to send over to the senior center for distribution, two van loads full.”
Any families from RES needing food are asked to call Amy or Mary at the center, 251-947-8973. The service will be available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please call at least 24 hours in advance to allow for food to be prepared from items available on hand.
Beam said the CSS offices remain closed, but they will work with the adult activity center to provide a box for them and leave it outside for them to come and pick it up. You can also call CSS at 251-947-2293.
The address to mail donations is P.O. Box 870, Robertsdale, AL 36567.
Things are also moving steadily at Ecumenical Ministries locations in Foley and Fairhope, said Executive Director Sally Deane.
“We’re not seeing a huge increase in people seeking donations, probably because Prodisee Pantry is seeing so many with their Tuesday food distributions,” she said. “My concern is that once things recover, there will be people who don’t recover as fast as others and that’s when we will see a surge in requests.”
There has been an outpouring of support from the community that has allowed Ecumenical Ministries to keep both pantries stocked, Deane said.
“There has just been an overflowing of support,” she said. Deane said the organization continues to operate like they always have, except that they are continuing to practice no contact rules.
“There is a number that you can call when you pull up to tell us what you need and we can supply it all without contact,” she said.
Ecumenical Ministries continues to accept donations of food and monetary donations at both of their food pantry locations, 564 Fairhope Ave. in Fairhope and 102 W. Spruce Ave. in Foley.
For more information in Fairhope, call 251-928-3430 or in Foley, call 251-943-3445.