After a brief, temporary suspension, the New Life Church and Ministries Food Pantry just outside of Hillsboro will resume providing food for 400 to 500 families this and every Friday via a drive-through process at its 6101 S.R. 247 location.
The well-known food pantry has been closed since December while Bill Bowman, minister at the church and organizer of the food pantry, battled a tough case of COVID-19. On top of that his wife, Linda, who ministered at the church and helped with the food pantry, died in late October.
But now Bowman is ready to resume the food ministry that has helped so many.
“Anyone that comes will get food. We want to go ahead and get started because there is a tremendous need right now with the gas prices and other things,” Bowman said.
Food will resume being loaded into vehicles from 1-4 p.m. every Friday, 52 days a weeks. But the ministry asks that no one show up prior to 10 a.m. because machinery is being operated food and plenty of room is need to move things around.
“We do it 52 weeks a year because it doesn’t matter what the weather is — people are hungry,” Bowman said.
He said those on the receiving end will get fresh meat, vegetables, salads, fruit and bread most weeks, although bread might be missing this week.
While the food pantry is reopening, Bowman said another ministry at the church, Ivy’s Closet, which provides clothing, will remain closed for the time being. He also said it is not currently accepting any donations.
New Life Church and Ministries has been providing food in its current drive-through format for 15 years, and provided the community food by other means for another 15 years before that. In addition to serving local residents, the ministry provides food on a regular basis for 40 other food pantries in 11 counties.
It takes about 40 to 45 volunteers — none of them paid — to pull the pantry off each week. They are New Life members, other church members, or just community residents that want to help. More volunteers are always needed. There is a vetting process, but anyone interested can call Bowman at 937-402-1653 or director Diane Ramsden 937-205-5820.
Bowman said financial donations are also always appreciated, especially with diesel fuel for the semis that gather the food and deliver it elsewhere running around $5 per gallon. He said the donations can be dropped off on Fridays or mailed to the church.
Somewhere around 70,000 to 80,000 pounds will be given away at the church this and every Friday, Bowman said. No proof of income is required, but some may need proof of residence if there is more than one family that wants food in a single vehicle.
“We’re here for the duration to meet the needs of the community,” Bowman said. “And they don’t have to be from Hillsboro or Highland County. If you come, you will get food, and plenty of it.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.