The COVID-19 pandemic has been sending more people to local food pantries, which are in need of donations.

“I’ve taken 20 new clients the past few weeks,” said Traci Gerard, executive director of the Grove City Community Food Pantry.

The pantry is serving 592 families in the Grove City Area School District – a total of 1,358 adults and children.

People who live in the district and are in need of food assistance, especially those who have been laid off from work, are welcome to apply. They can also call 724-458-5208 for more information.

“We are an emergency food pantry,” Gerard said.

Monetary contributions as well as non-perishable food donations are appreciated, plus toiletries, hygiene products and cleaning supplies.

“I can’t buy anything in bulk,” she said of how the pandemic has impacted the pantry’s supplies.

The pantry has changed the way it distributes food in order to reduce the risk of spreading illnesses.

“We just prepackage everything now,” Gerard said.

Clients no longer enter the building at 114 S. Center St. in Grove City, where distribution hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Friday.

One client at a time is met at the door by a volunteer, who hands out a box of supplies purchased from the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County.

The food pantry supplements the box with meat, dairy products and other essentials.

The pantry hasn’t had any problems with too many waiting people in line, and updated information is shared on its Facebook page.

The clients have been respectful about keeping 6 feet apart and wearing face masks, and they’re understanding of the necessary changes, she said.

Thrifty Threads, the thrift store next to the food pantry, remains closed. Its sales proceeds support the food pantry.

Monetary donations can be dropped off at the pantry during distribution hours; mailed to: Grove City Community Food Pantry, 114 S. Center St., Grove City, PA 16127; or submitted online at gcfoodpantry.org

In Stoneboro, the food pantry at Lakeview Area Helping Hands has about 90 clients, said Peggy DeAngelo, administrator.

“We all need prayers and we all need support,” she said.

They have temporarily halted accepting food donations because they can’t be certain where the items come from.

Monetary donations are still being accepted, and those funds are used to buy food from the Community Food Warehouse.

The furniture and used clothing stores are closed for now, and food donations are handed off outside the building.

“People have been very understanding and accommodating,” DeAngelo said.

Helpings Hands volunteers and staff have been doing the best they can, and they’re thankful for community support and the Community Food Warehouse.

“God has just continued to bless us moment to moment,” she said.

They can take on more clients who are eligible. Helping Hands serves residents who live in the Lakeview and Commodore Perry school districts.

The center, 51 Lake St., is open 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Visitors are asked to ring the doorbell.

Donations can be sent to: Lakeview Area Helping Hands, P.O. Box 145, Stoneboro, PA 16153.

For more information, call 724-376-3231, or visit the Facebook page or lakeviewareahelpinghands.org

In Slippery Rock, the Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard has also made some adjustments in response to the virus.

Because of the community’s generosity, they are able to serve anyone who needs food. Paperwork is not being done at this time to register new clients.

“If you have lost your job and need food, please come to the cupboard,” a post on the agency’s Facebook page says.

The food cupboard, located at 324 N. Main St., Slippery Rock, typically serves families in the northern part of Slippery Rock Area School District.

Distribution hours are 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Donations of canned and dry food items can be dropped off during those times, and monetary donations can be mailed to: SR Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard, 324 N. Main St., Slippery Rock, PA 16057.

The food cupboard offers delivery to seniors who are unable to pick up their food. They can call the agency to arrange a delivery.

For more information, call 724-421-5274, or visit the agency’s Facebook page.

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