News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 23, 2012

Bread and Produce Market helps families running short on food

TERRE HAUTE — A line of people wrapped around the building’s front and down Locust Street, waiting for an armload of food.

The monthly Bread and Produce Market sponsored by Catholic Charities of Terre Haute wouldn’t officially open Saturday until 9 a.m., but an eclectic crowd had gathered well in advance. John Etling, the organization’s executive director, said word travels fast within the community of need.

“There’s probably half of them or better that we see on a regular basis,” he said that morning, a little hungry himself from the week-long United Way of the Wabash Valley Hunger Challenge. Participants in the Challenge agreed to eat only what $29.27 would buy them for the week, a sum representing the average amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program assistance for recipients in Terre Haute.

The Bread and Produce Market opens each month on the third or fourth Saturday, he said. At that point, families on government assistance are typically running short on those funds. Outside the food bank on Locust Street, tables and carts were full of donated bread, pastries, vegetables and meat for the taking. The food provided at this market is in the “highly perishable” category, Etling explained.

“That’s the key, keep the food flowing while it’s still of value,” he said, adding more than 150 area businesses provide the product. Farmers, bakeries, grocers and wholesalers all contribute, he said.

To get food, participants needed only sign a register to help provide an accurate count for the day, including the number of people in their household and their zip code.

By 10 a.m., individuals representing 140 households had come through. Etling noted that’s a typical number, and the monthly program usually distributes upwards of 2,700 pounds, with a goal of providing 30 to 35 pounds per family. In addition to the food, the group also distributes recipe cards, designed to help people stretch their provisions through what Etling referred to as “the lost art of cooking.”

Launched in November 2010, the program is nearing its second full year of operation.

Danny Patton was among those carrying bags full of produce back to his car. Single and without children, he said he’s on Social Security disability and receives SNAP.

“My rent is high,” he said, noting he pays $465 a month plus utilities and doesn’t receive government housing or energy assistance. “I don’t live off the government. I live righteous,” he said.

Crates full of pastries, cakes and muffins were stacked next to spinach, bananas and broccoli. Kathy Shannon and her family carried away a birthday cake in addition to other goods.

“This is going to help us tremendously,” the grandmother of six said.

Shannon said she has sole custody of all six children, with ages ranging from 1 1/2 to 14. And while she’s isn’t employed, she said managing six children is work enough for her. Different cooking strategies help extend the volume of materials, and she planned to use the bananas for bread.

“And I appreciate every bit of it,” she said of the program.

Volunteers helped load bags for recipients. P.J. Scott said he’s been volunteering with the program for two years.

“It’s good to help these families,” said the self-employed partner in Scott and Son’s Complete Home solutions. “Everyone’s going through rough times.”

Brian M. Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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