The Inter Parish Ministry has been helping families throughout Clermont County with emergency food, clothing and assistance programs for more than 40 years. The group was started when four churches from three denominations saw a need and developed a pantry in Newtown.
Throughout the years, the group has added 36 more churches to its list of supporters, as well as, businesses, schools, community groups and individuals.
“Many of the churches had pantries in their buildings, but it was just more efficient for them to have a central location,” said Rodger Crowe, coordinator for the Choice Food Pantry. “We have also broadened our scope beyond just churches.”
In June 2009, pantry organizers saw a need for a satellite location to assist with the emergency needs of the people in Batavia.
"A woman from Batavia had met some of the needs with a clothing store and some food," said Gail Koford, development director for Inter Parish Ministry. "She was quite elderly and when she died, Batavia First Presbyterian Church offered Inter Parish Ministry this space in their basement. The church not only offered us the space, but they also help us with food donations and volunteers to work with our families."
The Choice Pantry, which is open 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. the second and fourth Saturday of each month, is stocked with food and personal care donations. Families can visit the pantry once every three months to receive free food and personal care items. The Batavia pantry opened its doors for the first time on June 27 this year.
"During the first six months of 2009, we have served 6,000 individuals in Newtown," said Crowe. "We have served 1,630 families just through the end of July. In Batavia alone we have served 210 families."
Crowe noted that the pantries serve families in Clermont County and eastern Hamilton County with more than 75 percent of their clients coming from Clermont County.
In comparison, the pantry served 170 families in July 2007, 200 families in July 2008 and have served more than 360 families in July 2009.
The Batavia Choice Pantry offers families choices with a variety of nutritional goods available for them to pick what their family will eat.
"Families can come here on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, register with us and a volunteer will help them pick out the food they want. They take home food supplies for their family at no cost," said Koford. "We do ask that they provide us proof that they live in the 45103 zip code, but anybody in Batavia can come and receive food."
The pantry is located in Batavia First Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Third and North streets in Batavia. It offers clients canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, sauces, beans, rice, cereal, condiments, meat and fresh bread. In addition, they also have extras available in limited quantities and personal care items such as shampoo, soap and deodorant. The shelves are also stocked with infant care items including diapers and baby food.
Crowe has prepared a critical needs list for those wanting to donate to the pantry.
"We currently need potatoes, canned pineapple, canned stews, spam and hash, jelly, cream soups, boxed potatoes and rice," said Crowe. "We also need canned tomatoes, all sorts of canned beans, all types of cereal and products such as crackers, cookies, juice and mustard. We can always use shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste."
The pantry is also in need of baby items including larger diapers and pull ups and wipes.
"We have received quite a few donations of fresh vegetables from some of the local farmers markets this year," said Koford. "We like to have nutritional choices for our clients and the fresh produce has helped. We are always accepting donations year round."
Inter Parish Ministry also offers counseling services, a clothing pantry, holiday assistance, parish nurses and an elderly ministry at their Newtown location. They can be contacted through their web site at www.interparish.org, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (513) 561-3932.
Donations for the pantry can be made by dropping them off during the hours of operation or by calling the Newtown Pantry, 3509 Debolt Road, in Cincinnati at (513) 561-3932.
To commemorate Hunger Action Month in September, Inter Parish Ministry has invited author Nora Stanger to a special book presentation. Stanger has written a book entitled "Diamonds in the Dew," and those participating are asked to read the book and be prepared to take part in a discussion about the issues of poverty and the darkness it brings. Stanger will be explaining her story from first-hand experience. Books are available at the Inter Parish Ministry office.
The event will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Miami Valley Christian Academy Cafetorium. The school is located 6830 School Street, Cincinnati. Refreshments will be served.