In this 2012 file photo, United Way workers count and sort food donations made during the Day of Caring Food Drive. Thanks to public reaction to a food shortage at the Salvation Army Food Pantry this summer, the food pantry should remain stocked until this year’s United Way Day of Caring Food Drive on Sept. 26. (DHI Media File Photo)
In this 2012 file photo, United Way workers count and sort food donations made during the Day of Caring Food Drive. Thanks to public reaction to a food shortage at the Salvation Army Food Pantry this summer, the food pantry should remain stocked until this year’s United Way Day of Caring Food Drive on Sept. 26. (DHI Media File Photo)

VAN WERT — Two weeks ago, Maj. Art Barter was not feeling too secure. The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Van Wert was all but out of food. Families who came for help with groceries soon would be going home with only a few scraps of what was leftover. With no promise of a food supply coming to restock the pantry, there was much uncertainty.

“It was a little unsettling not knowing where we would get more,” Barter admitted. “We had plenty of snack food like packages of crackers you could give kids after school, but nothing substantial that you could put in a bag of groceries for a family.”

After a front page story, word got out. Then evidence of caring people in the Van Wert area was seen.

“The response to the news of our food pantry food shortage a little better than a week ago was nothing short of amazing. Food products and private cash donations started coming through our doors immediately,” Barter stated. “Several local businesses stepped up to the plate with large donations. Leland Smith Insurance Services, Statewide Ford, and First Federal of Van Wert got together and gave a combined gift of $2,000.”



The donation total surpassed $10,000 with another $2,000 of canned and boxed food stuffs also donated.

Barter noted that need has increased at the Food Pantry with approximately 250 families being helped last month. At the same time, donations have decreased. That is, until two weeks ago.

“The donations from the United Way Day of Caring used to last us seven to eight months, but they are only lasting three to four months now,” Barter said. “This time we had maybe a week’s worth of food left; the people just really started to come forward.”

The Salvation Army is in the midst of an upcoming move to 120 N. Cherry St. in Van Wert, the former home of Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Even with all the preparations being made, the additional energy had to be put into the Food Pantry. The ministry of continuing to help those less fortunate in the community drives Barter and all the volunteers of the Salvation Army.

“Even though people may have jobs, the cost of groceries have gone up and they have to supplement things somehow. Even if they get food stamps, they are still having to hit the local food pantries to put food on the table,” Barter pointed out.

With the donations from the past two weeks, Barter believes the pantry will remain stocked until the United Way Day of Caring Food Drive on Sept. 26, which should bring in around 30,000 food items. But he is still a little overwhelmed with the response from the community over the past 14 days.

“It is this kind of response to our call for help that allows us to serve in this community and throughout the county with distinction.” he said. “God Bless you and thanks for your support!”