Partners in Food appreciation meal draws praise, crowd


By Dave Pearce

Partners in Food appreciation dinner emcee Jim Droege listens as Denny Schaeffer and Kathy Ridley tell the audience what the program has meant to At The Cross Mission this year. Photo by Dave Pearce

Partners in Food appreciation dinner emcee Jim Droege listens as Denny Schaeffer and Kathy Ridley tell the audience what the program has meant to At The Cross Mission this year. Photo by Dave Pearce

In the Bible, it reads: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you.”
In another place, the Lord speaks through the Bible: “Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.”
Then in Deuternomy, the instructions are as follows: “When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.”
“You are those gleaners,” Jim Droege told members of a congregation of participants in the Partners in Food program held Sunday evening at Zion-Lippe United Church of Christ.
The Partners in Food program was started by a group of four who gathered at the church about nine years ago when one of the food assistance groups for the area announced that the program would be ending. From that group of four the first year, 75 now are partners in the group.
“One of the things that makes this such a special program is that there is absolutely no overhead,” spokesperson Jim Droege told the audience on Sunday. “The church here provides us with someone to answer the phone and everything else is donated.”
Donations come in the form of farmers donating the proceeds of one acre of their crops to the program through shares which can be purchased by individuals. When the final numbers are finally calculated for 2013, Droege said he believes the group will be ahead of last year.
To give some idea of the scope of this program, the fresh meat from nearly 35 head of beef, 149 hogs, and over 16,000 pounds of potatoes were distributed through local food pantries this year. Processing of the meat, done at a discount through DeWig Meats in Haubstadt and some by Paul Goebel, resulted in over 16,000 pounds of ground beef and nearly 15,000 pounds of ground pork. DeWig, who spoke briefly at the meeting, estimated that translated into somewhere around 125,000 sandwiches.
The rib portion of the animals is barbecued and sold with all proceeds going to assist the organization.
Droege expressed that even the annual dinner, organized to thank those who provide sponsorship, was at no cost to the organization. The food and the labor was donated.
Several distributors were on hand to sing the praises of the organization at the Sunday evening event.
Dennis Schaeffer and Kathy Ridley were was on hand, representing At The Cross Mission. They indicated there are generally somewhere between 60 and 140 meals served at their food facility nightly with a clothing bank and food bank also in operation.
Lora Norrrington, substituting for Mount Vernon Food Pantry Director Erin Hollinger, said that group served 6500 people and some 2000 households last year.
Mary Ellen Gerard, who has a hand in overseeing the New Harmony Food Pantry, said demand was up sharply this year in New Harmony, as well. The group served 779 Posey County families from the New Harmony site. That is up from under 300 last year.

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