Marshall County food banks aim to help alleviate seasonal hunger among residents

The Marshall County Neighborhood Center keeps their shelves stocked with foods donated from various sources.
Shelby Harrell

Startling statistics from research conducted by Indiana food banks association Feeding Indiana’s Hungry reveal that one in every six residents is currently suffering from food insecurity, meaning that they are currently living without any form of reliable access to a sufficient amount of quality nutrient-dense foods.

Regarding the individuals living within Marshall County’s borders, however, the Marshall County Neighborhood Center and the Culver Food Pantry are each doing their part in alleviating traces of food insecurity among the population.

The Marshall County Neighborhood Center, a countywide agency that is currently operating as a food and clothing pantry, serves approximately one quarter of the county’s total population.

Executive Director Chris Garner reports that while the center does see an increase in the number of donation items received the needs of each individual family increase as well.

“The change of season often brings higher bills for families,” Garner explains, “many have had to turn their heat on earlier this year, and that cuts into their food budget.”

Local charity institutions such as the Marshall County Neighborhood Center and the Culver Food Pantry receive a large amount of their donations from outside organizations.

“The Neighborhood Center is currently funded by the United Way,” said Garner. “We also receive rescue foods from places like Walmart, Martins and Little Caesar’s.”

Culver Food Pantry trustee Dennis Lewandowski, meanwhile, has been receiving significant donations from Culver Military Academies through their recycling of food program in which food that goes unused by the staff of the campus cafeteria is collected and donated to the community’s food pantry.

“One young man who attended the academies took inspiration from an online article detailing similar programs with schools and universities out west,” Lewandowski said. “He talked to Nutrition Policy Consultants President Tracy Fox, who then asked me if I would like to be involved.”

The Culver Food Pantry, which is open only on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., also receives generous donations from Park N’ Shop in addition to individuals and churches throughout the community.

Garner attributes the significant increase in citizen’s donations around November and December to the general spirit of the giving season.

“I think people tend to be in a more giving state of mind during this season,” said Garner. “People have the tendency to perform the mental-check of ‘what can I give’.”

Food products that many pantries are consistently seeking include cereal, pancake mixes, peanut butter, hearty soups, pastas such as mac-n-cheese and other varieties, pasta sauce, canned meats, boxed meals such as Hamburger Helper, meal sides, rice, mashed potatoes, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables and various Bisquick baking mixes.