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Adair Food Pantry Serves 300 Families

By George Kolbenschlag

Adair Countians are generous folks and our local food pantries and those they serve benefit from that generosity.

The largest of Adair’s food pantries began as a project of the Columbia Christian Church “Fifteen or twenty years ago years ago” according to present pantry treasurer, Robert Flowers. The late Ivy Collins French organized the pantry and the Christian Church hosted it from the church basement. It rapidly outgrew that location and was relocated to it its present home in a separate building at Columbia United Methodist Church.

That pantry is the largest, but not the only local food pantry. Several other charitable organizations, including Trinity United Methodist church and Joy Ministries also provide food to local residents.

In addition to donations from local citizens and businesses food is delivered to the pantry from the Kentucky Feeding America location in Elizabethtown. Some comes at no charge and for some the pantry pays a fee.

Feeding America is a story in itself. A national organization, Kentucky’s Feeding America branch acquires and distributes donated food, grocery items, and government commodities throughout almost 16,000 square miles of Kentucky. They serve 42 of Kentucky’s counties through a network of more than 225 partner agencies. They deliver food to the Adair food pantry monthly.

Columbia’s Walmart also donates significant amounts of surplus food to the Adair pantry, and the pantry depends on donations from local citizens, and organizations and grants from foundation such as Kosair Charities for both equipment and food.

According to Pantry Director Michele Fudge, the pantry serves about 300 families (or close to 1000 individuals) a month. Asked why she is involved Fudge says, “I was raised to help others.” Her mother, Nell Fudge, was one of the original pantry volunteers when they were located at the Christian Church. She still volunteers at the present pantry.

The food is sorted and $75-$100 worth of food is put into about 300 boxes each month. Registered families can pick-up a box once a month on Tuesday mornings from 9amCT-12 noon central time, or the last Tuesday of the month from 4pmCT until 7pm.

Flowers adds, “As can be expected there are a few people we miss in our screening who don’t need or deserve the food and who take advantage of the pantry, but they are few, and that’s their problem, not ours.”

Columbia’s food pantry has a big task and they perform it well thanks to the many volunteers who give their time to the project. The pantry crew is always looking for more help. If you want to volunteer or donate, call Robert Flowers at (270) 634-1820 or Michelle Fudge, (270) 250-5432.

Adair countians are not alone in their great generosity. Americans gave $449.64 billion in 2019, and $309 billion or 69% of that came from individuals. The rest came from corporations and foundations. That’s more per person than any other nation world-wide. Speaking of his work at the Adair food pantry, Flowers says: “It’s one of the most humbling things you will ever do.” “It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m glad to be a part of it.” Obviously, so are the other volunteers.

This story was posted on 2020-09-16 00:27:22
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Food pantry volunteers at work

2020-09-16 - Columbia, KY - Photo by George Kolbenschlag.
Food pantry volunteers prepare food boxes for a Tuesday morning distribution. From left are: Rebecca Parnell, Debbie Brackett, Kim Keltner, John Wethington, Mary Beth Phelps, Robert Flowers, Mimi Barstow, and Michelle Fudge. Michele is the food pantry’s director.

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