RIVERBEND - Food prices are going up and it’s harder than ever to stretch a dollar. Fortunately, there are several local resources if you’re experiencing food insecurity.

“We are all experiencing higher prices at the grocery store,” said Jane Ahasay, the executive director of the Glen-Ed Pantry. “It’s costing all of us more, and when you only have a set amount of SNAP benefits, that only goes so far. So we are seeing people that we have not seen come through our doors for a couple of years that just cannot make it on their SNAP benefits anymore because of the high price of food.”

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The Glen-Ed Pantry and Crisis Food Center are two local pantries that offer free food for people who are eligible in the Riverbend region. They also have clothing and household items available.

Am I Eligible?

Different food pantries have different requirements about who can utilize their services. To receive assistance from the Glen-Ed Pantry, you must meet the same financial qualifications to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). You also must live within the Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7.

Crisis Food Center does not have any requirements to qualify for their services. If you tell them you need assistance, they will provide you with food. As a result, they often see patrons from all over the Greater St. Louis region.

“We don’t require that they live in the area or that they prove that they have a food insecurity. We’re open to anyone who says this is what they need,” explained Karen Sutton, who volunteers with Crisis. “That’s what we're here for, to take care of the people who are insecure with their food. I think part of it is a lot of our clients go to other food pantries, but with the rising prices, I think it’s just not enough. They need more than one place to go.”

How Does It Work?

Crisis Food Center and the Glen-Ed Pantry both require patrons to call in and schedule an appointment to pick up food. They will ask a few questions about the names and birthdays of the people in your household. The pantries have to report these numbers, but they won’t share names.

At Crisis Food Center, clients can come twice a month to pick up boxes of food. These boxes are put together by staff members based on the size of a household.

Unhoused community members can also come to Crisis a few times a week to pick up bags of food. If you’re unhoused, you do not have to make an appointment. You can simply stop any time the center is open to pick up food.

Crisis Food Center uses the information they collect to make “birthday bags” for the kids in a household. These bags include the ingredients for a birthday cake and plates, napkins, cutlery and other things that you’d need for “a little party,” Sutton said.

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“We are happy to serve and we think nothing of the situation,” she added. “Anybody could be in that situation from time to time.”

Clients of the Glen-Ed Pantry can come shop for food every 30 days. On Wednesdays, the pantry also has fresh food that clients can supplement their shopping with. From 3–6 p.m. on every third Wednesday of the month, they have a “mobile market” where anyone can come pick out food, regardless of whether or not you meet their normal requirements.

“We’re here for even just one-time help,” Ahasay said. “Let’s say you’ve been sick and missed work and things are a little bit tighter because of that, or car trouble. We’re here for one time if you just need us, a couple of times if you need it for just a couple times. We’re here for however long you need us. That’s why we’re here.”

I Need Food for My Kids This Summer

Both food pantries noted that they see an increase in clients during the summer months, when school is out and kids no longer have access to the free or discounted meals they receive at school. Both pantries are equipped to handle this increase.

The Glen-Ed Pantry also sponsors the “Brown Bag Buddies” program during the summer. Starting the week after school lets out in the Edwardsville school district, the pantry will provide five lunches every Monday morning between the hours of 9–11 a.m. You can pick up these lunches at the front of the pantry on Monday mornings.

I Want to Help

Crisis Food Center and the Glen-Ed Pantry rely on donations to stay operational. They ask people to consider donating food and funds.

“We’re supported by the community to support the community,” Ahasay said.

If you want to donate food, Sutton and Ahasay said they need “staple items” like rice, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, vegetables, canned fruit and meal starters like Hamburger Helper. As summer approaches, they will also need foods that are easy for kids to prepare, like Chef Boyardee products.

Ahasay and Sutton urge people to keep them in mind throughout the year, and to remember that hunger can happen to anyone. These local food pantries are there to serve and help out as much as possible.

“Food insecurity is a huge thing, and know that Edwardsville is not exempt from hunger. We’re not exempt,” Ahasay said. “No one is exempt from hunger and it can happen to anyone at any time. None of us are exempt from it, so it is kind to keep others in our heart as they’re experiencing a difficult time.”

To learn more about Crisis Food Center and their services, call them at (618) 462-8201. Call the Glen-Ed Pantry at (618) 656-7506 or visit their website at GlenEdPantry.org for more information.

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