By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
Any way you do the math, the Milford Community Pantry is a busy place.
This pantry is one of 550 agencies certified as a Food Bank of Delaware hunger-relief program partner.
Started by the late Henry Cowgill more than 25 years ago, the pantry serves 80-100 families each month out of a converted classroom in the Avenue United Methodist Church.
Tita Lewis, the pantry’s director, and a volunteer for more than a decade, says that there are some misconceptions about the pantry because it’s located in the church. Some people, she said, believe the pantry is part of Avenue’s ministry.
Actually, the Milford Community Pantry, a separate not-for-profit agency, also partners with the Milford Lions Club.
“It’s the Milford pantry, the community’s pantry, and we get donations and volunteers from other churches,” she said.
“There are a couple small churches with a good hearts. This is a very giving community.”
Tita said she first got involved through the urging of a friend at a Bible study meeting.
“I wanted to say no, but given the setting, and we were talking about focusing on our spirit and God, so I said I will try,” she said.
“It’s been very, very rewarding for me. I always say I see God at work here all the time.”
The pantry relies on loyal volunteers to serve 15-20 families each week. Many ask for assistance because of economic hardships brought on by cold weather.
“We have families who come maybe three times a year. They just live so close to their budget that when the car needs to be fixed or they have to buy heating oil, it’s tough,” Tita said.
Diane Dolan, a retired teacher and active volunteer, explains that all clients need a referral, whether it’s from a pastor or state agency.
In addition to providing food, the Milford Community Pantry also offers toiletries, dish detergent and toilet paper. Clients also get a voucher from Redner’s for bread, milk, eggs and butter.
One of the greatest needs now is bars of soap. The pantry can always use peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, pasta and boxed macaroni of cheese.
“We have the best volunteers in the world. People who volunteer here say they enjoy it. They can see that they are helping people,” said Tita.