SPANISH FORT, Alabama — Cars lined the street in front of Prodisee Pantry in Spanish Fort on Tuesday for an emergency food distribution program.
“We’re anticipating that we will have five times the normal response,” said Executive Director Deann Servos in a phone interview on Monday.
At the event on Tuesday she said they were prepared to hand out more than 1,300 food units at the event, which began at 9 a.m. and continued until noon. On Wednesday, Servos said volunteers handed out 775 meals.
“Our volunteers worked hard through the heat to serve the community,” she said. “We also got a little sprinkle, but we didn’t mind that. It cooled us off.”
Servos said she wanted to continue to stress that the food pantry is for emergency need only and right now it is only open for Baldwin County residents.
“If you still have groceries in your pantry and food in your refrigerator, please wait for future distributions to be posted on media outlets,” according to a press release issued on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s event.
Those participating in the event were asked to bring photo identification as proof they live in Baldwin County. Each family received a prepacked food unit.
As far as donations are concerned, Servos said, they are asking that residents only make monetary donations.
“We have been very blessed that families have been able to make online donations,” she said. “I expect that we will be empty in the next few weeks, but we will be able to purchase more food when the time comes.
“It’s just easier for us to be able to choose what we need rather than having to sort through a food donation. We are able to purchase food at a much-discounted rate than the normal family, and when the time comes, we will be working to restock as soon as possible.”
Servos said another distribution has been set for Tuesday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to noon.
To donate, you can go online at prodiseepantry.org/donate or you can donate by mail at P.O. Box 7403, Spanish Fort, AL 36577. For more information you can call 251-626-1720.
Other distribution centers in Baldwin County say they are also anticipating an increased need over the coming weeks.
Sally Deane, executive director at Ecumenical Ministries, also asked that residents consider whether or not they have an emergency need when calling about donations.
“If they have food and are just looking to stock up on supplies, that is not what we are here for, but if there is an emergency need, we are here to fill it,” she said.
Deane said the organization is operating like they always have, except that they are practicing social distancing.
“We are asking people to call first and all the screening is done over the phone,” she said. “Once they have gone through the screening process, we are setting up food outside for them to come and pick up.”
Ecumenical Ministries is currently accepting 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.
Phyllis Beam, executive director for Catholic Social Services in Robertsdale, said they are not currently accepting food donations, but welcome monetary donations.
“We have plenty right now, and if necessary we can send someone to the Food Bank to purchase more,” she said. “If anyone would like to make a monetary donation, they are welcome to mail it to us.”
The address to mail donations is P.O. Box 870, Robertsdale, AL 36567.
To receive donations, Beam said, residents should call first and it will be left outside for them to come and pick it up.
Catholic Social Services is also providing donations through its Project REACH backpack program to the city of Robertsdale for distribution at the George P. Thames Adult Activity Center on East Chicago Street. Any school-age children with families in need are being referred to them, Beam said.
Any families needing food are asked to call the Amy or Mary at the center, 251-8973.
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.
Christian Service Center President Linda Chappelle said the Gulf Shores distribution center has seen an increase in requests for food and they are anticipating additional requests for rent assistance and utility payment assistance in the coming weeks.
“Currently we are screening over the phone,” she said. “We are asking people to call before they come and we will let the food pantry know 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.
While there is a concern that the Christian Service Center relies mainly on local churches, which are currently not holding congregational meetings, Chappelle said they are prepared.
“We have a reserve fund set aside in case of a disaster and this is a disaster situation,” she said. “We went through the same thing with Ivan and Katrina. People came through with donations then and we are anticipating the same thing to happen now. We feel like God put us here to help families in need and we are going to continue doing that as long as possible.”