Calhoun’s St. Vincent de Paul pantries adjust hours
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By Carissa Sitki
St.Vincent De Paul Food and Clothing pantries in Hardin are making adjustments to their weekly operating hours. They will be extending their hours on Wednesdays, opening an hour earlier and closing an hour later, and they will no longer be open on Thursdays.
Beginning Feb. 1, the pantries, which are normally open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will only be open on Wednesdays. However, they will be extending their hours to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accommodate the larger numbers.
According to Board President Brad Vacca, the pantries were visited on Wednesdays more often than Thursdays.
“85% of our neighbors in need come on Wednesdays,” said Brad Vacca, Board President. “When we surveyed the 15% who come on Thursdays, all but one said they could come on Wednesdays.”
Robin Hillen, Pantry Manager, offered solutions to those who may be unable to come in on Wednesdays.
“If there is someone who cannot come on Wednesdays and who cannot find a proxy to pick up food for them, then we will deliver to them,” said Hillen. “We really don’t anticipate this being a big problem.”
This change also affects volunteers, but, when surveyed, they also agreed that they could work on Wednesdays. Volunteers will be working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Wednesday.
“They are in the process of sorting out their shifts now, but we expect to have full coverage”, said Hillen. “After the change on February 1, we will better understand any challenges of a one-day a week schedule. I think it can be accomplished, but with any change, there will be bumps in the road.”
Vacca said that they will monitor the change and make small adjustments when necessary.
“The board will watch this change very closely. We anticipate having to tweak here and there. We keep monthly statistics,” said Vacca. “We will see if there is a drop off in usage of the pantry and will act accordingly if there is a problem.”
Wednesday is not the only day volunteers work. The first three Tuesdays of every month, they are busy with receiving food deliveries and breaking down those deliveries into manageable quantities for distribution., according to Hillen.
Unfortunately, some of those days may be shortened because the amount of food the pantries receive from their suppliers (at no cost), is less than normal. Hillen said, last Tuesday they only received 400 pounds of food from one of their suppliers when they normally receive 1000 pounds, according to Hillen.
“Because of the generosity of the community, we are able to purchase food, but it requires us leaving the county and transporting it back,” said Hillen. “Again, because of our generous donors, we are able to do this. We go where we can get the very best buys for the dollars we have to spend. Our neighbors in need don’t have the wherewithal to do that.
“Last year, 197 different households representing 457 family members used the food pantry. They made 1,918 visits to the pantry in 2022. And last year 148 of our neighbors in need representing 388 family members made 922 visits to the clothing pantry. And almost the same number of families used Winnie’s Closet that supplies paper, cleaning, laundry, and personal supplies.
“The need continues to be great.”