Paul Ault, board member at Oasis of Mercy Food Pantry demonstrates how boxes will be packed for families when it opens. Katherine Collins/Staff

Mechanicsburg opens 1st food pantry to fight hunger locally

The village of Mechanicsburg’s first food pantry will open Tuesday after organizers said they saw an increase in need throughout the community.

The Oasis of Mercy Food Pantry, 40 Walnut St., will offer food boxes to residents in the Mechanicsburg Exempted School District on the first and third Tuesday of each month, Board Member Paul Ault said.

It will open for the first time from 4 to 7 p.m. April 4.

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“We started feeling the need that there was a necessity that wasn’t being addressed yet,” Ault said.

A couple at St. Michael’s Church, Bill and Kay Miller, first thought of the idea, Ault said, and the parish backed it.

“There is such a need for it for this town alone that there are people that don’t have food enough to feed their families,” he said.

Several other local churches support the new food pantry as well, he said. It’s also a partnership with the Second Harvest Food Pantry in Springfield.

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Residents will be able to pick from the aisles of food what items they need, he said.

“We know that it’s going to be an ongoing project,” Ault said. “I wish it wasn’t but it will be.”

The pantry expects to serve about 80 families on the first day it will be open, Ault said.

It also plans to serve about 250 people per month, according to a statement from the Oasis of Mercy Food Pantry. That would cost about $7,000 a year to supply food. Organizers are confident the money can be raised through grants, donations and other outreach to the community, according to the statement.

The poverty level in Mechanicsburg is 14 percent higher than the national average, the statement says

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“If someone walks in that door as a stranger, we’re hoping they walk out as part of a family,” Ault said.

But the increase in need for food locally is probably not solely related to the economy, he said, but also due to the increase in drug use.

“It’s an addiction and they feed that instead of feeding the body,” he said.

A dedication to the Oasis of Mercy Grounds will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday. Anyone is welcome to attend. More information on the food pantry is available on their Facebook page, which can be found by searching the social network for “Oasis of Mercy Food Pantry.”

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