By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Grace Now of Madison County, a food pantry and clothes closet, distributed more than 3,700 food baskets to 1,270 households last year, said director Sherry Robinson.
As a member agency of God’s Pantry, Grace Now is one of the two pantries in Richmond that distributes food funded in part by a federal program, she said. However, only 20 percent of the food is federally funded, so the organization depends on donations to meet the needs of the community.
Last year, the Richmond Register collected around 1,000 pounds of food for Grace Now, offering deep subscription discounts in exchange for canned goods.
Madison County residents can get a one-year subscription to the Register for $64.50 (regularly $120) with a donation of 10 cans of food for its fourth-annual “Those With Some Help Those With None” food drive.
That offer is only available to first-time customers. However, current subscribers can receive one month for free with a 10-can donation. Donations can be brought to the Register (380 Big Hill Ave.) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Current subscribers can call and ask their carriers to pick it up, said Johnny Bowen, a Register carrier of four years.
“We’re hoping for a ton of food this year,” Bowen said. “It makes my Christmas knowing that this food is going for those who need it. I know a lot of people who have used the food pantry.”
Robinson said the most-needed items are protein-rich foods such as canned meat and peanut butter. The organization used to buy peanut butter with donated funds, but the rising cost of peanut butter put a stop to that, she said.
Through Grace Now, the average family of four will get around 40 food items. Its location at 110 South Collins Street (near the Medicine Shoppe) is open Mondays and Thursdays 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for food and clothing distribution. A proof of residency in Madison County is required to receive food from the federal program.
Grace Now has assisted more than 3,500 households since 2001. Some people tend to think that food pantry services are abused by those who need them, Robinson said. “At Grace Now, that’s not the case.”
Around 47 percent of the households used the pantry only one time in the last year, while 74 percent of the households used it three times or less. Only 2.5 percent used the food pantry once a month or more, she said.
The organization is entirely volunteer. Those who are interested in volunteering or would like more details about the organization can visit the website at www.gracenowky.com or call 626-8990.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.