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AMEN Food Pantry services community

A steady stream of families filed into the AMEN Food Pantry on Tuesday, seeking boxes of food to carry them through the next two weeks.

Marie Castro, who recently moved to Dickinson from Montana, visited the food pantry for the first time. She found a job and apartment, but her salary doesn't cover food expenses.

Joletta just returned to Dickinson and experienced the July tornado. She too, needed assistance.

"It's very helpful. It's there for needy people," she said.

Lindsey, who has visited the food pantry a couple times, added, "It stretches the food budget.

And while the boxes were being filled with food, gardener Adeline Decker walked in with a bag of cucumbers, green beans and zucchini.

"I can't use it. I gave it to my friends and now they have plenty. I don't want it to go to waste," she said.

The cucumbers were quickly piled on top of the boxes.

Mary Ann Unruh and Sharleen Fraaze were pantry volunteers for the day.

"We've been doing this for a long, long time," said Unruh.

Board member Marilyn Kessel said the food pantry serves between 35 and 40 households a month. July was a huge month because of the tornado.

"We were way over average," she said.

The tornado survivors needed lots of cleaning supplies -- lots of laundry soap, she said.

The cash donations are used to purchase the paper products or to pay freight costs of food shipped in from the Great Plains Food Bank.

"Dickinson has supported us to the max. Every time we run out of something, somebody comes through. It's been amazing," she said.

Barb Truchan, food pantry board president, said the food and cash donations come from different organizations and individuals.

"Actually, the people in our community have been so generous," she said. "After the tornado, many people needed cleaning supplies and detergent. But with the closures and layoffs, the need is increasing in our community."

"We do serve outside the Dickinson area, but many smaller communities also have food pantries," she added.

Truchan gave credit to the volunteers who manage the food pantry -- cleaning, stocking shelves and helping clients. The hours are 2-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"Without everybody working as a team, this just would not work," she said. "The challenge is doing this all on a volunteer basis."

She credits local businesses who donate items and the groups who sponsor food drives.

"You could go on and on and on," she said. "From talking with past board members, I've learned how it has grown and fits the needs of the community."

The food pantry requires that individuals and families receive a voucher.

The vouchers are available from such agencies as Community Action and Stark County Social Services.