Nearly 1,800 households in western Wayne County received food from the Jefferson Township food pantry in 2023. It is expanding to offer personal care products to people who need them.
Located in the township building at 37 E. Main St., Hagerstown, the food pantry is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays. It serves people from Jefferson, Jackson, Clay, Dalton and Perry townships. Allison Ullery, the deputy township trustee, works with trustee Chris Lane and volunteers to operate it.
“A majority of the time that we’re in the office (which is open three days a week), we’re working on the food pantry,” Lane said.
The township spent roughly $32,000 providing township assistance to about 15 households in 2023, he said. That is money separate from the food pantry. It helps residents pay for items such as groceries, utility bills, trash pickup, vehicle expenses or other necessities that they cannot afford.
Food provided by the food pantry comes from donations and from the regional Gleaners Food Bank. Lane said the township also buys some food from Gleaners at below-retail prices, spending between $400-$500 a month.
In 2023, the pantry received 37,254 pounds of donated food. About half came from the local Dollar General store. The pantry receives some donations from local churches, including more than 1,400 pounds from Hagerstown First United Methodist Church, where Lane is a member. The township spent about $6,000 on additional refrigerators and freezers in 2023.
Jackson Township, headquartered in Cambridge City, provided $3,000 for the food pantry in 2023 so that residents there could receive food from it.
“I felt like it was only right to contribute to that pantry,” said Township Trustee Lyndon Wicker, because some people from the Cambridge City area pick up food there. Jackson Township does not operate a food pantry, and also refers residents to the Western Wayne Food Pantry at Cambridge City Christian Church.
Wicker receives a monthly report of how many Jackson Township residents use the pantry. For December, it showed 32 households using the Jefferson Township food pantry.
“With probably two or three people in each household, that’s pretty close to 100 people,” Wicker said. “That’s real helpful to our township. It’s supplemental for the households — it doesn’t provide all their food but it helps fill the gaps.”
Dalton and Perry townships also provide funding for the food pantry under agreements with Jefferson.
The Personal Care Products Pantry opened on Jan. 19. It is a partnership between the township and a nonprofit formed by him and his wife, Staci, called Nettle Creek Community Coalition. It offers products such as shampoo, deodorant, soap, laundry and dish detergent, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and toothpaste.
Monetary and supply donations are largely funding the Personal Care Products Pantry. Most have come from Hagerstown’s Methodist church, but individuals have also given. Golliher Family Dentistry gave dental hygiene products.
Lane said two volunteers are regular helpers: Marty Sharp and Bob Lane. Sharp is now focusing more on the Personal Care pantry. Lane, Chris’s father, works mostly with the food pantry.
Ullery coordinates visits to Hagerstown from a mobile food pantry operated by Gleaners from March to November. Monthly on the fourth Thursday, a Gleaners truck parks at the Methodist church at 199 S. Perry St. People drive through between 10 a.m. and noon while township staff and volunteers load food into their vehicles. The mobile pantry serves about 200 families a month. It resumes March 28.
Many mobile pantry volunteers are student members of the Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School National Honor Society, said Ullery. She’s always looking for more volunteers.
Ullery also serves as program director for a back-to-school program that, in 2023, served 94 children from 47 families, and a Christmas program that provided gifts for 133 children in 51 families.
The township also sponsored a Christmas Day meal. Lane said volunteers from the Methodist church did all the cooking for 22 people who dined. He hopes the dinner will be an annual event.
A version of this article appeared in the February 7 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.