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Food pantry overflowing with donations

<p>John Starks, director of the Farmer Food Bank at First Presbyterian Church in Van Buren, points out the pantry’s stocked freezers and storage rooms.</p>

John Starks, director of the Farmer Food Bank at First Presbyterian Church in Van Buren, points out the pantry’s stocked freezers and storage rooms.

<p>David Fisher, a volunteer at the food pantry, hands a food box for two to Kay Ellison of Van Buren.</p>

David Fisher, a volunteer at the food pantry, hands a food box for two to Kay Ellison of Van Buren.

A food pantry in Van Buren is working to drum up more recipients of its free food service.

Not enough area families are taking advantage of the food service, said John Starks, director of the Farmer Food Bank at First Presbyterian Church.

“We have the volunteers, we have the food, but we don’t have the people coming in,” Starks said.

Farmer Food Bank has seen an outpouring of support from the community, with volunteers and donations of food and money, Starks said.

The pantry added five freezers, now full of frozen chicken, received a donation of 4,400 cans of food from Allen Canning Co. and are now receiving U.S. Department of Agriculture food items, Starks said.

But not enough needy families are being helped, he said.

To bring in more people, two new signs for the pantry are being put up. One will hang under the church’s large sign on Main Street, the other will be placed in front of Wood Memorial Christian Church on Broadway Street.

“If they don’t come in here, we can’t help them,” Starts said.

Starks and volunteers have worked to help Farmer Food Bank take the place of Compassionate Ministries, a food pantry on Kibler Road that closed its doors in October.

Though the Farmers served 300 families in December, it only served half of that in January, Starks said.

Compassionate Ministries was feeding more than 100 Crawford County families - about 2,700 people - a week, Starks said. Farmers is prepared to do that, he said.

“We know we have people in the county who need us, because they didn’t just go away when Compassionate closed their doors,” Stark said.

Crawford County is No. 1 in the state for food insecurity for seniors, No. 3 for children and No. 6 overall, Starks said.

To receive food, a county resident need only take photo identification, Starks said. Recipients self-declare family size and income, he said.

Food bank hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon.

To take advantage of food being provided, visit the church food bank at Jefferson Street and South 10th Street. Call (479) 474-2375 for more information.

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