ABOVE: Greg Cales, pantry worker, is restocking shelves. Each shelf in the freezer and in the main room contains a different type of food – meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, cereal, crackers, and unique foods. (Lauren Sieh/Staff photographer)

By Lauren Sieh
Staff reporter

When you don’t have enough money for food, try visiting a food pantry.

The Winfield Food Pantry is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. It is located on College Street, just north of Grace United Methodist Church. The food pantry serves the people in the northern part of Cowley County and Butler County. With the two counties combined, about 14% of residents use the Winfield Food Pantry. 

The food pantry was established in 1985. Starting out, the pantry occupied an upstairs closet in GUMC. They then expanded in to the basement of GUMC, where soon the space would be too small for the organization. In December of 2017, they official moved the pantry to the building next the church. 

Winfield Food Pantry is a missionary, which means they rely on donations to provide the food. Donations consist of cash as well as food. There are around five or six food drives during the year that help the organization. Although donating food helps, they prefer cash donations.

Phil Jarvis, organization leader, said, “We prefer people to just donate money to use rather than food. When they donate food, we have to go through everything and verify that it is still within the expiration date. We do not want to give out food that is expired.”

There are a few requirements for people to be able to use the food pantry. “People come in and they have to fill out a client information form every time they come in. Basically, writing down there name, address and all the members of their family. The United States Department of Agriculture publishes a figure for the minimum income a family would have to have in order to be declared improvised. Therefore, the family has to sign the form saying ‘yes our family falls within the income guidelines,’” said Jarvis. “They do have produce two things, a photo I.D. and a proof of address.”

The pantry provides various type of food. They have freezers full of different meats and shelves stacked with canned vegetables, fruit, cereal, crackers, and bread. There is a whole room dedicated to the unique food options, which are pasta, pasta sauce, beets, etc.

How much food they give you depends on your family size and income.

When asked how many bags family gets and how long that lasts, Greg Cales, pantry worker, said, “It depends on the size of the family. If it is an individual, they get so much. If it is a couple, a little more than an individual. Anything over that, they get the same amount of food, whether you are a family of three or ten.”

In addition to food, the pantry hands out vouchers that can be used at Dillions or Walmart. The amount given depends on the size of the family and their income. 

Winfield Food Pantry serves anywhere from four to thirty families a day. Jarvis said, “In 2018, we had 2,511 visits. As far as persons served, we served 8,449.”

The pantry’s goal for the future is to no longer be needed. They want to have a future where people don’t need a food pantry. Where everyone is fed and won’t go hungry. L