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Kumler Outreach Ministries operates a food pantry each weekday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Outreach Center, 303 N. Grand Ave. East, Springfield, Illinois. The pantry is a choice pantry, meaning individuals choose their food (e.g. corn versus green beans)rather than being given a pre-packaged bag or box of food. Choice empowers those using the pantry and helps cut down on waste.

The three- to four-days’ worth of food can include vegetables and fruit (fresh when in season thanks to a partnership between the Central Illinois Foodbank and local farmers’ markets), spaghetti, soup, crackers, peanut butter, canned chili or meats, macaroni and cheese, packaged noodle dishes, tea and sugar, cereal, bread, meat and other miscellaneous donated items,such as cake mixes.

A referral for food is required from a social service agency, e.g. Salvation Army, Contact Ministries, Catholic Charities, and a person can access the pantry once every 30 days.

Kumler Outreach Ministries’ food pantry receives food in several ways: 1) weekly shopping at a local grocery store for staple items; 2) weekly shopping at the Central Illinois Foodbank, of which the Ministries is an agency partner; 3) food drives, collections and donations from individuals, civic groups, other organizations, churches and faith-based groups; and 4) Pantry Partners who commit to collect a week’s worth of a food item for a month, e.g. peanut butter or applesauce, to help defray the Ministries’ cost of that item.

In 2009, Kumler Outreach Ministries began an evening pantry held the third Thursday of each month from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for people who cannot get to a food pantry during regular business hours. Kumler’s evening pantry is one of only two in Springfield.

Kumler Outreach Ministries provides food for between 1,800 and 2,000 people each month, and served 20,989 people in 2011. The summer months are particularly busy because schools are closed, children do not receive free and reduced meals, and family budgets are strained.

Kumler’s food pantry consumers also benefit from weekly bakery donations, produce from the farmers’ markets held in Springfield and from donations by indvidual hunters during hunting season.