By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s emergency food pantry is again looking to fill the gap after learning the Yukon Letter Carriers Food Drive has been canceled for a second straight spring.
To help stock its shelves, the Manna Pantry is planning a “drive-by” food drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 12 in the parking lot at 123 S 6th.
Residents are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food items – canned goods and dry goods – which volunteers will unload.
“People can drive by and we’ll stand there and take it from them,” Yukon Manna Pantry Director Sherri Rogers reported. “They don’t have to get out of the car.
“We’re doing this because the post office isn’t having their food drive again this year. That really hurt us last year.”
The postal carriers’ food drive had previously been the Manna Pantry’s largest event – bringing in as much as 28,000 pounds of food. But COVID-19 halted the curbside neighborhood collection.
“We need help,” Rogers said. “If anybody wants to volunteer, we’d love to have them – on a regular basis or just that day.”
The local food bank – which serves the hungry in Yukon and Piedmont – has about 140 volunteers.
Normally, Manna Pantry provides emergency food to 250-300 families per month.
“The pantry is still there this summer,” Manna Pantry board member Vicki McKee said. “The post office food drive (normally) brings in a lot of food. We didn’t have it last year, and now we can’t again this year.
“That just ran us really short.”
CHURCHES TO PITCH IN
McKee and fellow board member Ramona Ritchie are recruiting Yukon-area churches to take up food collections to be delivered to the pantry after next month’s drive-through drop-off.
“On Sunday (June 13), members of all the churches that participate can bring their food to their churches,” McKee said. “And then the churches will bring their donations to the pantry.”
The Manna Pantry has seen a decline in the number of people needing help in recent months, due in part to federal stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits and income tax refunds.
“We had 176 families in April, with 377 adults and 194 children,” Rogers shared.
The numbers have started ticking back up.
“We’re seeing people who haven’t been here in a long time – almost a year,” Rogers said.
For its efforts to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Manna Pantry recently was named the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s “Volunteer of the Year.”
Yukon’s longtime food cupboard will be “on the move” later this year – relocating to a new multi-phase Canadian County ministry at Trinity Baptist Church, 620 N Cemetery Road.
“We’re working towards – and very excited to be a part of – the Together We Center,” McKee said. “We’ll still be called Manna Pantry.
“We’ll be out there and able to serve a lot more people.”
The dedicated volunteer wants hungry residents to know the pantry is here for them.
“We have a lot of food coming in that we would love for people to use,” McKee added. “If you’re struggling at this time, come on by.”
Manna Pantry’s regular hours are 6-7 p.m. Sunday, 6-7 p.m. Monday, 2-3 p.m. Tuesday, 10-11 a.m. and 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, and 6-7 p.m. Friday.
For more information, call (405) 265-0193.