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April 6, 2014

Providence Food Pantry going strong after year at new location

WEST TERRE HAUTE — The setup inside the building makes it feel like you’re walking into a “mom-and-pop” grocery store, with a check-in area, and aisles for patrons to walk through and eye all the food set up perfectly on tables.

The tables separating the aisles are stacked with boxes of pasta, cans of produce, bread and more. There is an area specifically geared for meat products, and a check-out spot near the front entrance with volunteers prepared to help carry boxes to vehicles.

That’s the way Providence Food Pantry Director Sister Joseph Fillenwarth and all of the volunteers want it to be: Just like a grocery store, only for those in need of further assistance.

It’s been a year since Providence Food Pantry, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, moved to its new location.

In April 2013, the pantry moved from its original location — the basement of the former St. Leonard’s Catholic school building — to its new facility, 707 W. National Ave., in West Terre Haute.

Accurate Insulation owners Keith and Jamie Richey offered use of the building to the pantry for only the cost of utilities.

Funds from the annual St. Mary’s Village Church Hunger Bust Fun Run/Walk also help pay for utilities. The ministry is financed entirely by donations from area civic groups and a host of partner churches.

“It is so wonderful that all the churches work together,” Fillenwarth said.

According to Fillenwarth, approximately 32 volunteers help with distributing the food weekly.

“Everybody works together,” she said. “And every penny (donated) goes for food.”

Sister Brendan Harvey founded the pantry in 1994. Fillenwarth is now in her eighth year as director for the facility.

Several area organizations also help by donating food to the pantry, including the West Vigo IGA — which Fillenwarth said also assists with “many special orders, at a good price,” among other food items.

Catholic Charities of Terre Haute assists by providing breads, sweets and produce at no cost, while also offering special prices for other foods. Helping Hands of West Terre Haute also provides the pantry with meat products and produce among other items weekly.

Fillenwarth said Helping Hands donated $31,435 of food products to the pantry last year and has donated $198,148.31 to the pantry since 2003.

In addition, local schools also contribute.

On average, the pantry assists approximately 300-plus West Terre Haute families monthly. Each family has the chance to receive assistance once a month. Families must provide their latest utility bill to prove they live in West Terre Haute.

Last year, the pantry served 3,691 families and more than 13,000 individuals.

“God wants us here,” Fillenwarth said.

The pantry is open on Thursdays only, from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

For more information, call 812-535-2544, visit spsmw.org/providence-food-pantry, or write to Fillenwarth at 1 Sisters of Providence, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., 47876.

Monetary donations are also accepted online at www.SistersofProvidence.org and designating Providence Food Pantry.

Pantry hours

• Open: Thursdays only, from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

• Location: 707 W. National Ave., in West Terre Haute

• For more information: Call 812-535-2544

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