Mercy Health Love County - News

Food Pantry Sets New Giving Record

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011


At the food pantry operated by co-workers of Mercy Health/Love County Hospital, Clinic, and EMS in Marietta, a record 8,373 food packages were given out in the first six months of 2011.

The old record was 7,716 packages in the first six months of 2010.

The pantry is helping supplement the food needs of an average 1,400 households per month in 2011, compared to 1,300 in 2010, 1,100 in 2009, and 1,000 in 2008, said Ann Langston, the hospital’s pantry representative.

Clients receive one food package per family per week, consisting of about one dozen items of fresh, frozen, canned, and packaged foods.

These are basics – beans, rice, pasta – foods people need for an adequate diet, not luxury items. Pantry workers say clients go on and off the rolls, depending on financial circumstances.

The ability to buy enough food to get through a month is often affected by unexpected costs, such as medical or prescription bills or car repairs.

Some seniors on fixed incomes juggle bills monthly to make ends meet.

Recently, workers said, a household turned to the pantry in need of “meal stretchers” in order to host extended family in town for a funeral.

The pantry has a continuous food drive underway. Organizers say donations of canned and packaged foods may be dropped off at the hospital at any time.

Cash contributions are accepted at the business office or through the hospital pantry account at BancFirst, 105 SW 2.

The pantry uses the contributions to purchase steeply discounted bulk food items from the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Other foodstuffs come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A $100 donation buys a surprisingly large quantity of staple foods, about 1,100 pounds.

Currently, 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of food arrive every two weeks from the combination of sources.

Food packages are filled and distributed to clients from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays.

Emergency food packages are available at the nurses’ station in the hospital 24 hours per day.

Mercy Health/Love County co-workers organized the pantry in 2001 in a linen closet of the hospital. They brought the food themselves to give to patients they found choosing between food and medicine.

The Love County Health Center Foundation saw to the construction of the pantry building the following year. Over time, freezers and a walk-in refrigerator were added, expanding on the nutritious items that could be offered.

Food donations and cash contributions from the public have followed.

“We are grateful for the continuous concern that is shown by the community. They conduct food drives, give individually, and volunteer to help unload, bag, and hand out packages. Their support of the pantry has been outstanding,” said Richard Barker, hospital administrator.

A benefit golf tournament, open to the public, is being organized by the Falconhead Ladies Golf Association for Saturday morning at the Falconhead course. Participants will contribute canned goods and cash contributions as part of their entry fee. Sign up is through the pro shop at 276-9284.