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Friday, March 31st, 2017

Food truck aims to roll over hunger

By Tom Stankard

The Agape Mobile Rural Food Pantry visited Fort Recovery Nazarene Church on Tues. . .

Hunger is ubiquitous yet often invisible, especially in rural communities, said Jeff McAtee, Shelby County's Agape Distribution Food Pantry coordinator.
Agape ministry volunteers are trying to end that problem one community at a time with their Mobile Rural Food Pantry.
Fifteen percent of rural residents live below the federal poverty line, compared with 12 percent in urban communities, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report. Many rural communities don't have a food pantry, and those in need must travel to receive assistance, McAtee said.
Agape's Mobile Rural Food Pantry was launched in 2009 to serve Shelby County. Services were later extended to Mercer County communities without a pantry - Rockford, Mendon and Fort Recovery, he said.
The mobile food pantry serves 50 families per month among the three towns, he said. It also serves 1,400 families in Shelby County.
The pantry is a self-contained unit called the "Hunger Assault Vehicle." McAtee said it carries enough supplies for three days' worth of food to provide a balanced diet for 75 families.
"It's just a matter of trying to fill people's bellies that need some help," he said. "We try to offer a balanced diet, including canned meats, fish, bread and vegetables."
Seniors, single parents, at-risk children and those facing hard economic times are welcome to shop, he added.
McAtee said people need a photo identification, proof of residency and names and birthdates of all people living in the household to qualify. The food is provided from multiple sources, including private donors, businesses and from Operation Blessing International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to ending hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
The mobile food pantry and its volunteers are in Mendon from 9-11:30 a.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month at the United Methodist Church, in Rockford from 12:30-3 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday at the fire department and in Fort Recovery from 12:30-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday at the Nazarene Church.
The food pantry has received a lot of positive feedback, McAtee said, recalling one of his more moving experiences involved a woman who came to the pantry for help.
"She and her kids lived in a car. She was able to get enough food for her kids but she hadn't eaten in three days," McAtee said. "She heard about the food pantry and she was in tears because she was able to get food. She was so hungry. She was then able to survive until she got assistance that was coming from the government."
McAtee said he hopes the mobile pantry will be able to travel to at least one more community, but no decision has been made.
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