BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A food pantry and soup kitchen in Bloomington is struggling to keep canned vegetables on the shelf.
Community Kitchen of Monroe County says in the past six months, their canned vegetable shelves have ended up empty five times.
Like most pantries and soup kitchens, Community Kitchen sees most of their donations come in during the winter, but they’re providing meals six days a week year-round.
"We spend almost $100,000 a year now just on food, but last year we served over 302,000 meals and snacks in the community. So relying on food donations really helps us keep our budget as low as it is," said Executive Director Vicki Pierce.
Pierce says as a soup kitchen, they get government commodities, but vegetables beyond potatoes or maybe cream corn are rare to get through commodities.
Pierce says running out of the items used to never happen.
Now, once a year, they do a large vegetable buy.
"We will buy maybe four or five pallets of different kinds of vegetables so that we got some variety. We got some in reserve in case we hit a time like this, but we have already depleted that as well," Pierce said.
Sometimes, the kitchen may have to improvise.
"I just feel like we all have so much food that we don’t finish, and so there’s really no reason for anybody to go hungry. I don’t care who you are or what your circumstances are," volunteer Lori Wade said.
It’s why they rely on the community to donate canned veggies.
They accept cash donations, but it’s better if people donate cans.
"I’ve got staff costs in finding the best price for food, getting the order, going to pick it up and or paying extra delivery fee and getting it all moved around. When it comes to us, all we have to do staff wise is put it on the shelf and use it," Pierce said.
Since posting the empty shelves on social media, donations have poured in, but they will be gone before you know it.
"Our output, the programs and services we’re providing have grown so much. Even if we were getting exactly the same amount of donations, they are small parentage of what we’re doing," Pierce said.
Community Kitchen always accepts canned food donations Monday through Friday. For more information click here.