Belpre Area Ministries helps families

BELPRE – Founded in 1995, Belpre Area Ministries has several programs to help needy families in the Belpre and Little Hocking communities.

Open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the ministries offers utility and rent assistance and a food pantry. It operates a thrift shop at 2310 Washington Blvd., although at one time, the shop was in the basement of the Rockland United Methodist Church.

Rita Rodgers, who is on the executive board, said the organization averages 70 to 80 households a month with its food pantry, but it has had more than 90.

Recently, the number of families getting food boxes has decreased.

“Some people are leery of coming out. Some got their stimulus money and don’t need help,” she said.

As they are independently operated, they don’t get their food from the Logan Food Bank like most food pantries in the area. They depend on donations from the community and area churches. There are 11 churches of varying denominations in the ministry.

Visitors who want to receive food need to show a photo ID and Social Security card for everyone in the household, along with proof of address, such as a utility bill.

St. Ambrose Church has raised beds where they grow fruits and vegetables and some are donated to BAM. They also get fresh food from Harvest of Hope, but they purchase most of their food.

“We get some things from Harvest of Hope, but we never know what we’ll get,” Rodgers said.

She said it depends on how much the family eats, but the food boxes provide enough for six or seven days.

Along with food boxes, Belpre Kroger vouchers are given so the families can purchase other food they need.

“They can use it for produce, frozen fruits and vegetables, meat, bread or milk,” she said. The amount of the voucher depends on the number of people in the household. For instance, a single person would receive a voucher for $15, but a family of five or more would receive one for $55.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, BAM changed their requirements from one visit per 60 days to one visit per 30 days. They also help people with rent or utility bills.

“They’re going to start shutting people off,” Rodgers said. “We’re seeing an uptick in people since they haven’t been shutting people off.”

They help pay depending on the person’s situation. They also help with prescription costs and sometimes gas cards for doctor’s appointments. The person has to prove the appointment and they will call the pharmacy to verify the prescription.

A yearly assistance limit is in place, which includes food.

Jane Snider started volunteering at the ministries in 2009 to help people in need. She constantly meets new people

“Nobody comes at the same time, so you don’t always see the same people,” she said.

The thrift store is open the same time as the food pantry. Most clothes range from 50 cents to $2 and most items are no more than $1. They often run sales and donations are accepted during business hours.

Michele Newbanks can reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.


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