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Indian Creek Valley Food Pantry still making ends meet

| Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Despite a foundering economy, the Indian Creek Valley Food Pantry is making ends meet.

Husband and wife team Ray and Nancy Knopsnider of Indian Head have been working hard for the past several years to keep the food pantry viable and the needy in the community fed and clothed.

Nancy Knopsnider is at the helm as executive director. Her husband helps with inventory and distribution. He said the number of community participants who get food from them has steadily increased since the economy took a turn for the worst.

"A lot of people are getting laid off or having their hours cut and it's hard for them to make ends meet," Ray Knopsnider said. "We were averaging between 150 and 175 participants, but we have close to 300 names right now.

"If everyone showed up at one time, it wouldn't take long to run out of food," he added.

In recent months, the ICV pantry has been averaging about 205 participants who come to take food.

A part of the Fayette County Community Action Agency Food Bank in Uniontown, Ray Knopsnider said he or other volunteers have to make a run for food from the Fayette agency on a regular basis. On top of that, volunteers are constantly running to pick up items collected at churches or by different groups, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

"One day we went to four different places to get food and another time we picked up produce from a local farmer at 10 p.m.," Ray Knopsnider said. "We go anywhere and everywhere."

From there, the group makes up boxes that include such staples as beans, tuna, milk, macaroni and cheese, rice, noodles, orange juice and different fruit that might be in season.

"Sometimes we get in things like eggs, chicken nuggets and ground turkey, and in November we got over 100 pumpkin pies," Ray Knopsnider said.

The pantry opens its doors the first two Wednesdays of the month from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from noon to 2 p.m.

In order to qualify for the program, individuals must bring in proof of income for the entire household, an electric bill for proof of address and a Social Security number for everyone in the household.

Income guidelines are: family of one, annual income can be no more than $16,245; two, no more than $21,855; three, no more than $27,465; four, no more than $33,075; and five, no more than $38,685.

Ray Knopsnider said they have been blessed to stay afloat in these hard times.

"You have to look at it from all points of view," he said. "Everyone's in a tough run and you can't expect miracles all the time, but God has been good to us. We've always been able to fill the needs."

He added that people have been faithful in their giving, and when some individuals have had to stop giving because of their financial situation, others have stepped up.

"Giving, for them, gives them a sense of doing something for the community," Ray Knopsnider said. "They're helping out people in need as much as we are."

While Nancy Knopsnider is director of the food pantry, she has also gotten involved in providing clothing, shoes, games and other items to individuals on food pickup days.

"The nice thing about these items, is that there are no income guidelines," she said. "Anyone can come in on food pickup days and look through this (clothing, shoes, etc.) and take anything they would like."

Shirley Franks of Normalville has helped in this department for the past five years. Collecting the items is just half of the responsibility.

Every month the items have to be unpacked and laid out on the table in some semblance of order.

Any items that aren't taken must be packed back up at the end of the two weeks only to be unpacked and put back out the next month.

Nancy Knopsnider said they have gotten such donations as mattresses and even microwaves in the past.

For questions or more information on the food pantry, individuals can stop by the community building, which is located up the road from the Normalville Volunteer Fire Department on food pickup days and times.

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