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Community help needed: Neal Center's pantry is bare

The pantry at the Cleveland County Council on Aging (Neal Center) is bare, and the staff is asking for the community's help in restocking it.

"Even long before the COVID-19 crisis, the Neal Center food pantry has provided groceries for the older citizens of Cleveland County," says Paulette Putnam, Neal Center executive director. "This service has proven itself to be especially valuable in recent weeks. We are really very thankful for the generosity of many individuals, local companies, organizations and churches who have all helped us to be able to assist those facing the difficulty of purchasing food."

While the Center has been closed since March 16 due to COVID-19, the staff has been working hard to make sure the county's senior population does not go hungry. During that time the organization has fed 2,220 seniors.

"Now we are asking for help once again to fill our pantry and provide for those in need," says Putnam.

Four days a week, Monday-Thursday, staff members help coordinate the county's Meals on Wheels program, which delivers hot meals to 140 households. Each Thursday, these homes also receive a bag of groceries from the Center. These bags are filled with basic easy-to-fix food items such as pop-top canned items, spaghetti, crackers and peanut butter.

"I have to purchase 140 cans or boxes of every item," says Putnam, "so we shop a lot at Walmart because they do not put a limit on the number of items we can buy."

These 140 bags of groceries are in addition to the senior families that come by the center to pick up food.

"So that is why we are constantly needing to restock," she says. "We are calling on all churches, sororities and mission groups to help us out once again."

While food donations are always appreciated, monetary or gift card donations are also very helpful, according to Putnam.

Those wishing to donate food, money or gift cards can bring those items to the center, which is located at 100 TR Harris Drive in Shelby, Monday - Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donors are urged to call the center at 704-482-3488 so that the staff will be available to accept the donation.

Putnam also has a message for anyone in need: "If you are a Cleveland County resident, at least 55 years old, you are eligible for this service," she says. "Interested individuals must call the Neal Center at 704-482-3488 to arrange an appointment for eligibility. Appointments for this service are available for 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday."

In addition to food, the center also provides toiletry items and fans for senior citizens.

"We hope that county residents who have a need will feel free to give us a call," says Putnam. "We are here to help."

Suggested Food Donation Items:

•Canned chicken

•Tuna

•Vienna Sausages

•Beanie Weenies

•Chicken & dumplings

•Beef stew

•Soup

•Jell-O cups & pudding cups

•Apple Sauce or other fruit cups

•Peanut butter

•Saltine Crackers

•Little Debbie Cakes (or other individually wrapped desserts)

•Ravioli, beef-a-roni, spaghetti

•Peanut butter crackers (or other individually

wrapped crackers)

•Shelf-stable milk

•Juice pouches (low sugar)

•Instant oatmeal

•Oodles of Noodles

NOTE: Pop-top cans (if available) are easier for

seniors to open.

NOTE: Pop-top cans (if available) are easier for

seniors to open.


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