The Pacer Pantry in Delaware remains open despite the closure of the schools, and officials said they are preparing for an influx of clients as financial resources become scarce for families during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lily Wiest, program coordinator for the Delaware City Schools Family Resource Center, said Wednesday the pantry fills an important need in the community.
“Food insecurity remains an underestimated issue in Delaware, so I believe all of our pantries are important,” Wiest said. “But I am particularly proud of the Pacer Pantry.”
Wiest said the Pacer Pantry has “pretty lax” rules that allow it to help people who normally couldn’t get support from other pantries.
“As a crisis pantry, our model is a bit unusual,” she said. “We don’t require ID, and we don’t have any income guidelines. In general, our rules are pretty lax. Of course, we have less stock and variety than most full-service pantries, but our flexibility allows us to serve clients who otherwise might not qualify for food assistance. In the midst of a crisis like this, that flexibility is especially important. We expect to be serving lots of families who may not have ever visited a food pantry before.”
Wiest added the pantry has averaged seven or eight visits a week from families in need this year, but she is expecting more in the coming weeks.
“That seems like a small number but it is an exponential increase compared to the numbers we were seeing just two years ago,” Wiest said. “Of course, it varies based on the season. We get a lot more traffic around the holidays than in the summer, for example. So far, we have remained pretty steady. We haven’t yet seen a mass influx of visitors; we expect to see more people in the coming weeks as financial resources become scarce for families.”
The Delaware City Schools Board of Education noted during its meeting Monday that it received several donations from businesses and individuals in the community to support the Pacer Pantry.
Wiest said the outpouring of support from the community has been encouraging.
“I’m so proud of our community, and I’ve honestly been overwhelmed by the number of calls and emails I’ve received in the last few days from people asking how they can help” Wiest said. “I hope that we will sustain this level of community care and generosity to help our most vulnerable neighbors get through the crisis.”
Wiest added there are several ways community members can help the pantry.
“We are accepting all non-expired, shelf-stable goods, as well as toiletries,” she said. “Donations can be dropped off to the Willis front office between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays. We are directing anyone interested in making a financial contribution to the United Way Hunger Alliance website.”
Wiest specified that the pantry is avoiding travel-sized toiletries.
More information about monetary donations and the hunger alliance can be found at: https://www.liveuniteddelawarecounty.org/take-action/hungeralliance.
The Pacer Pantry is located at Willis Education Center, 74 W. William St. in Delaware. It provides nonperishable food and household necessities for all DCS families experiencing food insecurity while respecting the privacy of each family and situation.
The pantry is opened Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be arranged by calling 740-833-1619.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter BattishillDG.