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Farmington food pantry talks about food shortage

FARMINGTON – The Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry has been trying to make more and more of the community aware of the food shortage. Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson met Tuesday with a group gathered in the small building to talk about ways the government can do more. 

Director of the Ministerial Alliance Laura Raymer said federal funding needs to reach the food pantries sooner and there needs to be ways of helping more people.

Raymer said they have folks come in who need help and can’t get it. 

“We make sure people get the food and try not to throw any of it away,” said Raymer. 

The Ministerial Alliance has served 256 families and 595 individuals so far this month. Last month they served 246 families and 526 individuals. Their final totals in July were 365 families and 827 individuals, which was the most ever served at their facility. They are on track to break that record this month. 

Rev. Bill Miller said if the facility didn’t have the income from the thrift store they wouldn’t have any money. 

“We are gracious and thankful for every gift we can get,” said Rev. Paul Bembauer, president of the Ministerial Alliance Association. 

Raymer said the St. Louis food bank will host a mini food fair in Farmington Monday. They will hand out 10,000 pounds of food to as many families as they can in a three-hour time frame. 

“Every little bit helps,” said Raymer.

They spend $5,000 to $6,000 a month in groceries and the prices are going up. The group works with churches and others to help get the word out they need volunteers, money, donations or anything they can help with. Right now they need volunteers for both the food pantry and thrift store. 

They are trying to get more students and organizations involved. They want to target the younger volunteers. Raymer’s daughter Ann volunteers at both the food pantry and thrift store. 

One man said they came up with an idea at his office a few years ago instead of buying presents no one wants they donate to an organization. He said it works out well and helps others who need it. 

A volunteer at the thrift store said young moms have been coming in and buying nice looking clothes for $2. As they check out they are grateful and say now they can put their kids on the bus without having to worry kids are going to make fun of them. 

“We are very grateful for all the volunteers we have at both locations,” said Raymer.  

During the summer months, both food pantries had a hard time feeding all who came because donations were down. 

When families in need have kids and they are in school the students are assured at least one healthy meal a day while at school. However, once school is out, the food pantries give families more food because they have more meals to supply during the summer break. 

Debbie Firehammer with St. Vincent De Paul food pantry said they had a large room in the back of their building filled with food and supplies. However, the last couple of months families have emptied them out and now they are left with only one stack of boxes. 

“This summer has been very busy for us and consequently our food supply is very low. For the 22 days we have been open from June 1 through August 13, we have served 748,” said Firehammer. 

The 748 is the number of people who have walked through the door in 22 days. Multiply 748 by the average family size of 2.5 people and that is the volume of people actually served. At one time over the summer, they were getting 11 new people a week. 

St. Vincent De Paul and The Ministerial Alliance clients are assigned by the East Missouri Action Agency. In these difficult economic times both numbers have grown, and more people who have recently lost their jobs and senior citizens who are on fixed incomes are coming to the pantries. 

St. Vincent DePaul is also funded by monetary and food donations from the community. They are grateful for any help the community gives them, whether it be a few jars of peanut butter, boxed pasta, a box of cereal, fresh vegetables from the garden, a bag full of groceries, baby items or personal items like shampoo, toothpaste, soap, or a gift of money. They will take anything they can get. 

If Tuesday or Friday between 9 a.m. to noon is not convenient for you to drop off your donation, stop in at 404 E. Liberty Street. Call the church office at 756-0997 or drop donations off at the school office. You can also call Firehammer at 760-8637 or 314-488-8930 to find out more about donations. 

For more information on how your organization or business can assist the Food Pantry, contact Laura Raymer at 573-756-1917 or

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