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Sumter United Ministries' food pantry stock low

Director says Lord's Cupboard has been busy this season

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 8/24/19

Food display shelves sat empty Friday, not due to a hurricane-preparation frenzy focused on milk and bread. Sumter United Ministries' food pantry is running low on food because of a constant need in the community for basic survival …

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Sumter United Ministries' food pantry stock low

Director says Lord's Cupboard has been busy this season

Posted

Food display shelves sat empty Friday, not due to a hurricane-preparation frenzy focused on milk and bread. Sumter United Ministries' food pantry is running low on food because of a constant need in the community for basic survival necessities.

People have been donating, including a truck load from two grocery stores that now is almost depleted, the nonprofit's executive director said, but the Lord's Cupboard "has just been really busy. We go through a lot of food here."

"We don't want to put people into a frenzy, but we do need to communicate that we're in need," Mark Champagne said.

He said he sees a perception throughout Sumter that the ministry has enough money because of a current construction project to build a new emergency shelter. Five people are connected to that project, and only certain funding is earmarked for that division of the overall ministry.

"It takes about $650,000 just to run this ministry every year," he said. "A shelter is expensive. You have to staff it every day, plus everything else."

SUM provides shelter for those in need and has a food pantry, but it also offers more - clothing, education, counseling, medical care, eviction prevention, home repair.

It took 40 interviews for food assistance this week, Champagne said. One interview could be one person in need. It could be a family of six.

This week, the interviews equaled about 100 people. This year so far, 1,013 clients have received food from the pantry out of a total of almost 5,000 clients served.

When someone or a family receives food, they are given about a week's worth and cannot be eligible to receive food assistance for six months.

"We like to give them things to create a meal or go with a meal, so like pasta and rice, canned meals even like SpaghettiOs and mac and cheese," Champagne said.

He said canned meat like tuna and chicken is good, as is pasta sauce, cereal and grits.

"Anything except junk," he said.

The pantry has a freezer, so frozen meat or fresh meat that can be frozen is also accepted along with frozen vegetables. It will take gift cards to grocery stores. And money, of course.

For those who do want to simply write a check, those can be dropped off at The Sumter Item, 36. W. Liberty St., during regular business hours to be counted in the paper's annual Summer of Caring. The fundraiser started on Memorial Day and will last through Labor Day (Sept. 2), and 100% of money donated will be given directly to SUM. According to SUM, the ministry relies heavily on volunteers and uses 87% of its donations on program services.