Portage Township Food Pantry to expand distribution in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Portage Township Food Pantry to expand distribution in response to COVID-19 pandemic

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP – Amid growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and recently issued statewide stay-at-home order, Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy announced increased efforts to serve the township’s most vulnerable populations.

Those efforts will include working with the Portage Township Food Pantry to increase distributions of much-needed food to residents; increasing efforts to continually restock the food pantry; conducting welfare checks on senior citizens within the township; providing food delivery and prescription pick-up services for seniors and handicapped persons without transportation and working to remove barriers for those in need of assistance.

On March 19, the Portage Township Food pantry served approximately 315 individuals during its first drive-by distribution at its new location at 3590 Willowcreek Road. That, said food pantry executive director Bobbie DeKemper, was a 60 percent increase in the number of individuals served during one distribution date.

Clancy and DeKemper believe the demand on the food pantry will continue to increase as additional people lose their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the anticipated exponential growth in demands for food assistance, the township and food pantry will:
- Begin twice-weekly drive-by distributions from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning the week of March 30. Those seeking distributions must be Portage Township residents and show a driver’s license to receive a distribution.
- Increase the number of allowed distributions from once per month to once a week.
- Staff the food pantry five days a week to accept donations of non-perishable food items.
- Begin a vigorous community campaign to keep the pantry’s shelves stocked, reaching out to individuals, groups, businesses and other organizations to donate non-perishable items or funds to keep the shelves stocked.

The township will also provide emergency food drop-offs to senior citizens and handicapped residents without any other means of transportation. Those who are in need of the service should email info@portagetownship.org or call 219-762-1623

In addition, staff will continue to conduct welfare calls to members of the Bonner Senior Center which closed due to the pandemic on March 16. Portage Township has been assessing the seniors' need for food or other services and has been providing drop off meals and prescription pickups.