Washington Township Pantry Provides Food, Clothing & More to Those in Need
Writer: Jane VanOsdol
Photos Provided by Open Doors
In an area like Hamilton County, you might not expect hunger to be an issue. But Bruce Watson, president of the board of Open Doors Pantry of Westfield, shares the truth.
“It’s important people recognize that even though we live in an affluent community, there’s still great need to feed people who could otherwise not feed their families,” he says.
Thanks to founders Joe and Alice Trentman, Open Doors has been providing food, clothing and spiritual support since 1990 and serves 100 families a month. Run entirely by volunteers, the ministry has no paid positions. It takes about 75 to 80 regular volunteers to keep the ministry running.
As the pantry has expanded over the years, so has the need for a bigger facility. In 2015 the board launched a capital campaign to raise money for a new building and in just eight short months met their financial goal. On July 17, 2017, Open Doors moved into its 5,000 square foot building at 19360 Tomlinson Road in Westfield next to Monon Trail Elementary School. The school corporation donated the land. The space includes a lobby, meeting rooms, food pantry and warehouse.
“We were concerned about the new location because it’s out in the country,” Watson says. “But it’s been great.” School families have been a big supporter, dropping off items at the outdoor donation box while bringing their children to and from school.
Serving to Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus
Open Doors helps clients who live in Washington Township in Westfield. Clients must apply and meet eligibility requirements to receive services, which you can find more information about at opendoorswestfield.org/our-clients. Once approved, they can begin receiving the following assistance free of charge:
- Advocate Interview. Clients meet once a month with a trained advocate who assesses the needs of the family, recommends community resources and is available for prayer if the family desires. The client then fills out a monthly shopping list, which supplies about one week or more of food.
- Store shopping. After the interview, the advocate passes the shopping list to the pantry volunteers who pull the items and fill the order. During this time, the receptionist gives the client an additional four bags, two of which they can use to shop the lobby area for extra food items and two for the clothing store and book area. The lobby area is open for clients to access during regular hours throughout the month when their monthly allotment runs out.
- Special Programs. Open Doors runs several programs throughout the year to aid the community. The programs include Back to School Supplies, Thanksgiving Meals, Kids Christmas Gifts, Spring Cleaning Baskets, Books for Kids, Kids Summer Lunches and Kids Weekend Backsacks.
Open Doors is supported entirely by donations.
- Core group of 11-member churches
- Westfield community and township trustees
Additionally, Open Doors receives food donations or reduced pricing from several organizations.
- Hatch for Hunger. This program delivers eggs at reduced prices every two weeks.
- Partnership with Gleaners Food Bank. Since Kroger is a partner of Gleaners, Open Doors can receive food directly form Kroger, which regularly donates produce, frozen meat and baked goods.
- Partnership with Midwest Food Bank.
Watson estimates that 95 percent of all financial donations directly support the food pantry, while only five percent goes to operating expenses.
“People know when they donate that most of their money is going to help feed people,” he says.
While the food pantry is helping to alleviate hunger, Watson knows the underlying issue needs to be addressed,
“The biggest problem our client families face is low-paying employment,” he says. “Both parents work in service jobs like restaurants and hotels and they just can’t make ends meet. It’s a huge problem.”
To volunteer at the pantry or to make a donation, visit OpenDoorsWestfield.org. The pantry is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Give Open Doors a call at 317-867-8670. The organization is located at 19360 Tomlinson Rd.