WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Lafayette Urban Ministry on Friday opened a new food pantry at the Unitarian Univeralist Church of Tippecanoe County, 333 Meridian St.
Several local religious and elected officials were on hand for the event, including West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, who says the new pantry is one of just two in the city. But the ACE food pantry at Purdue University is geared mostly toward students.
"West Lafayette is not immune to some of the influences that we're all experiencing now, whether it be with the economy, whether it be with COVID, whether it be folks that come here with just enough money to attend Purdue University but might not have the necessary funding to be able to eat healthily on a regular basis," he says.
LUM Executive Director Wes Tillett says many people in the city struggle with food insecurity, even if their issues might not be obvious.
"There is a need in West Lafayette and it's hidden and if you maybe compare it to other places, you say, 'Well, it's not as dire,'" he says. "But need is need and we're trying to respond to the needs we see."
Food Finders Food Bank will keep the pantry stocked. Katy Bunder, president and CEO of the organization that distributes food to pantries in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties, says many people have fallen on hard times during the pandemic.
"It's going to be a slow recovery for people in the low-wage job sector and that's what Food Finders is trying to prepare for," she says. "We want to have the infrastructure in place to serve those people for a few years until they get back on their feet."
The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Fridays.
"Every church wants to be of assistance and do something meaningful," says Rev. Rosemary Morrison, the church's minister, "and this seemed like something that this church could sink their teeth into as it were and create meaning for them and pride for their church."
Tillett says the pantry is also supported by donations and volunteers. Visit the LUM website for more information.