PEACE PANTRY IN NEED OF DONATIONS
I'm sorry to say that I haven't been to the pantry to visit in many years. I live by the airport and before the pandemic, worked in Chesterfield. So... life has just kept me far away.
I work for Centene Corp and we just finished a fundraising challenge for the employees to benefit the St. Louis Area Food Bank. That immediately made me think of you and to visit your website.
Wow! So many wonderful changes! You've grown and expanded beyond Mom and Dad's wildest dreams. They would be so honored and touched to see how far the small seed that they planted so long ago has grown and flourished. With all your many hard-working board members and volunteers over the years, so many underserved and needy people have been fed and clothed. Great job!
Continued success to you and please know that you're in our thoughts.
With thanks and gratitude,
P.S. Thank you for the kinds words about my parents on your site. And that wonderful picture of Dad. It brought back memories of the days at Agape House and dear Ann Mattingly's tireless devotion to the clothes pantry.
Take a look below at some of the wonderful groups of people that have come together to make a difference for those in need in the community. Some of the most generous people I know live along the Hwy. 30 Corridor. God bless you all!
Lake Montowese subdivision and the Byrnes Mill Police Department hosted a food drive. Thanks to all of you for helping to feed our community! We can make a difference together. ❤️
Hope Lutheran Church of High Ridge hosted a food drive! Thanks to all who contributed. We can make a difference together ❤️
Community of Christ Church in Dittmer hosted a food drive 😯 Thank you for hosting and all who donated! We can do this together ❤️
Cedar Hill Elks Lodge 2678 donated $1,100 worth of food to the Peace Pantry today! Thanks to each and every one of them for helping us to feed the hungry in our community. We can get through this together.
No food and no volunteers have brought the Peace Pantry in Cedar Hill to the edge of closing, but members of the community are stepping up to help keep the pantry feeding people in need.
The Pantry which fed more than 33,400 people in 2019 usually has a staff of about 100 volunteers. Those numbers were reduced to a volunteer force in the single digits after COVID-19 came to the Midwest this spring.
“A lot of our volunteers are older and high risk,” Board president Linda Schroeder said. “We also have people from Sunnyhill and First Step, (agencies for the care of people with disabilities). Once COVID hit they had to be shut in.”
More volunteers still can’t help however, if there is no food to serve, Linda said.
“We can buy food for 10 cents a pound from the (St. Louis Area) Food Bank. The Food Bank has always been wonderful to us. This year we already purchased 90,000 pounds of food. But now, there’s no food available. They say we will not see any emergency boxes until June.”
There also is less food available at the grocery stores.
“Because of COVID, everyone was buying all the food off the shelves so there is less food available,” Linda said.
"The Postal Carriers also canceled their food drive this year. That is 16,000 cans to us,” Linda said.
Fortunately, the community is coming forward to assist the pantry.
How You Can Help
The Peace Pantry accepts donations of food and other items Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. or by calling 636-285-0934 to make an appointment.
“We prefer to have food, but if you prefer to make a monetary donation, it can be mailed to Peace Pantry, P.O. Box 32, Cedar Hill, MO 63026,” Linda said.
The Byrnes Mill Police Department has started a food drive. For more information call 636-677-7727.
The Big River Ambulance District has containers for donations of non-perishable food items at each of their ambulance houses –House 1, at 6321 Lorens Lane in Cedar Hill, House 2, at 4795 Tishomingo Road, Hillsboro, and House 3, 6969 Wild Cherry Lane, House Springs.
The Pantry has also heard from a variety of churches including Spring Hills Presbyterian Church in Byrnes Mill and Our Lady Queen of Peace and Soul Harvest Church, both in House Springs.
Foods needed include: jelly, peanut butter, canned tuna, canned chicken, box meals, hamburger helper, cooking supplies, condiments (catchup mustard salt pepper), cake mixes, flour, sugar, coffee, salad dressings.
The pantry needs able-bodied people to help unload food and stock shelves. Laura Massey Manansala has volunteered to coordinate volunteers. She has opened a Facebook page called Peace Pantry Volunteers and those willing to give their time to help can give her their information at that site.
Linda said she appreciates all the support the pantry has received and community leaders have met and plan to continue meeting to work out solutions to keep the pantry feeding hungry people.
Troops from the National Guard arrived in Cedar Hill in force April 29 to help the Peace Pantry stock shelves and serve their clients.
The troops were needed because many of the volunteers who in normal times work at the food pantry are considered vulnerable to COVID 19, Linda Schroeder said.
“Most of our volunteers are over 65. Some have had cancer; others have had diabetes, and we asked them to stay home,” Linda said.
Fortunately, Linda received a timely phone call.
“Operation Food Search called me and asked if we needed help down here,” she said.
Operation Food Search is the largest distributor of free food in the bi-state region and works to help supply the Peace Pantry and other pantries in the metro area with food. They arranged for members of the National Guard to come to Cedar Hill and help out.
Over the course of three days, the Pantry had lots of help -- 24 troops one day, 12 another and 8 another. The troops were from the 1231 Transportation Company out of Bridgeton. Captain Bryan Barker commander of the company said the troops were called out because of the pandemic and 200 of them have been assigned to help food pantries across the state since April 21 for 30 days.
“They were awesome,” Linda said.
Troops helped stock shelves, carry in food and helped clients load food, Linda said.
“We are so grateful. On Wednesday, they worked from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. stocking shelves for
Wednesday night and then got the shelves ready for Thursday morning,” she said.
They were scheduled again for the first week of May at the Peace Pantry and the timing couldn’t have been better.
Once a month, the Pantry distributes government commodities. Since not every food pantry is a USDA Center, families come from other areas of the county and beyond to pick up food. On average the Peace Pantry serves 350 families a month on the commodities side, and this time the Pantry has increased its store of commodities from 5,000 to 24,000 pounds, Linda said.
“(The troops) will come in on Wednesday at 9 a.m. and by Wednesday at 5 we’ll be ready to go,” she said.
Food will be unloaded and packed in boxes for those who come to the pantry.
Clients who get their food from the Peace Pantry weekly, however, are still allowed to shop.
“We don’t like to give them a box,” Linda said.
The pantry is, however, giving them much more food on their visits in order to reduce the number of times they need to shop. Where in the past between 225 to 250 people came each week, now during the pandemic 170 to 180 people come each week, she said.
“It’s much safer for them and for us,” Linda said.
Only five shoppers are allowed in the pantry at a time. They are all in the parking lot and they are each given a number, a sanitary wipe, gloves, a mask and a clean cart before they shop.
After they finish shopping, they are given another sanitary wipe to clean their hands and the cart is wiped down.
Linda said the troops and their help over the past week brightened everyone’s week.
“The clients were happy to see them and thanked them for service. They were so much fun.
They lifted everybody’s spirit,” Linda said.
Barker said the troops were “super excited” because usually they’re involved in some national mission and they were glad to be working locally, helping out their communities.
“We’re all from Missouri and most of us from the St. Louis area,” he said. “With that, we are trained and well equipped, so I think we are good partners during this epidemic. For sure, we are happy to help.”
"Food for thought" was all it was when the idea for a concert to benefit the Peace Pantry was first proposed six years ago. Since then, however, the effort by local musicians and the staff of Club Villa has turned the annual concert into lots of real food for people in need.
This year’s event, Saturday, September 14, brought in 744 food items, and $2,400! The staff and friends of Club Villa, work tirelessly each year to make this event a huge success – selling t-shirts and raffle tickets throughout the night, and offering food and fun for the whole crowd.
The event continues to grow each year in attendance and proceeds, and Club Villa’s, “Food For Thought” music event is proof that our community takes care of our neighbors in need.
Two donations fill the shelves this summer
Thanks are also in order to Hope Lutheran Church in High Ridge which made a generous donation of personal care items to the Peace Pantry! Both near and far, caring people come together for people in need.