By Chris Bavender
The Zionsville Food Pantry, which operates inside of Zionsville Presbyterian Church, will soon move out into its own space in a new building on the church grounds.
“The pantry began over 30 years ago in a closet in a classroom and now operates out of two classrooms, which have basically become warehouses,” pantry volunteer Catherine Coscia said. “Our growth has been through a specific response to the needs noted in our area. Boone County has grown, and the number of people seeking assistance has increased with it.”
ZPC Pastor Jerry Deck said the pantry volunteers have done a tremendous job of making use of rooms that were not originally intended to be a food pantry.
“They have developed creative ways to serve those in need, though it has not been without its challenges” Deck said. “The space has become more compact as they’ve needed to add freezers. The aisles are tight, and there is a pretty strict limitation in terms of the height of food because of the lower ceilings.”
Space, however, won’t soon be an issue.
Church officials hope a building permit for the new building can be obtained in February. The 5,400-square-foot facility will be in the church parking lot and cost approximately $975,000. Construction is expected take between nine and 13 months to complete.
“We’ll have the size we need for another 30 years of growth in a building designed to store and distribute food,” Coscia said.
Coscia, who has volunteered with the pantry for 13 years, said it serves 60 to 100 families a week, depending on factors such as utility costs, unemployment benefits and weather.
Another pantry volunteer, Angie Campbell, said the pandemic has increased the number of registered clients considerably, making the pantry more essential than ever.
“The support from the food pantry is immediate,” Campbell said. “Food is provided the same day the client registers with us. This safety net allows families to utilize scarce cash for other needs.”
The new building will also allow the pantry to provide more variety.
“We have been able to offer fresh and frozen food, but in limited quantities, as we currently have just 10 freezers and two refrigerators,” Coscia said. “The new pantry will have a walk-in refrigerator and freezer to allow for healthier food choices. Our current rooms have been maximized and really can’t fit any more product in place.”
Deck foresees the stand-alone building making the pantry even more accessible to the community.
“This will allow more people to know that the pantry is here to serve those in need and also serve as a sign that this community cares for, and stands alongside, those who are hungry,” Deck said.
Thankful for community help
“It’s amazing to see neighbors helping neighbors by providing transportation or delivering to families for whom it has been safer to stay home,” Campbell said.
Forty percent of the food distributed is from the USDA, delivered monthly by Gleaners. Another 40 percent is purchased through Gleaners and picked up weekly. The pantry is also supported through the Simply Give campaign at Meijer.
“We receive money that customers donate, and Meijer matches to purchase items for the pantry,” Coscia said. “Finally, 20 percent comes from food donations brought to the church or food drives. We have been so humbled by the support of many individuals from the community and organizations who have supported the building project.
“We are making excellent progress towards our goal but still have room for individuals who are interested in supporting the project to donate and join us.”
For more about donating to the Raise the Roof campaign, email [email protected].