Mary Anne Schindler took after her parents when it comes to her love of helping others.
The director of the St. Charles United Methodist Church “Matthew 25:35” Food Pantry in Destrehan oversees the food bank’s efforts to feed the hungry, and has done so to great success: last month, it fed 236 families, showing how far their efforts have come over the five years the pantry has been open.
The chance to help others never fails to fill her heart with joy.
“I grew up with my parents always doing things for others and really caring for them,” Schindler said. “My personality has always made me look for chances to do that as well. I see the need in our parish, and to do something that can really help others, that gives me more than I’m giving to anyone else.”
Matthew 25:35 became partners with Second Harvest, a United Way St. Charles affiliated agency, shortly after it opened. The results were almost immediate. When the food bank first opened, it was able to feed about 10 families a month, Schindler said. Last month it was more than 200 families, and over a full year, the bank has been estimated to feed more than 9,000 people.
Schindler credits a large part of that growth to the efforts of Second Harvest and United Way in helping to supply food to consistently be able to feed as many of those in need as possible, helping provide the tools for the kind-hearted Schindler and the pantry’s other volunteers to reach so many.
“You see people out of work … it might be your neighbor and you don’t realize the struggle they’re going through,” Schindler said. “We take so much for granted when we don’t have a problem putting food on the table, but there are people who just don’t know when their next meal will come.”
She recalled a conversation she had with a woman who arrived a bit late into the distribution process one Wednesday.
“The (perishable) food we had was all gone by that point. I said, you ought to just wait until next week and you’ll get a lot more food,” she said. “But she told me, ‘I can’t do that. I don’t have any food. Anything you have is more than I do.’ And for some people, they are at that point.”
The United Methodist Church’s food bank is just one of a number of avenues Second Harvest takes to feed St. Charles residents in need of it.
Another way is through its school backpack program, in which Second Harvest provides nutritious and easy-to-prepare food for hungry children in St. Charles Parish to take home on weekends and school vacations when other resources are not available.
Second Harvest’s Mobile Food Pantry is another major project that does a great deal of good locally. The traveling food truck provides food to 450 households in St. Charles Parish a month, the truck carrying thousands of pounds of fresh produce and other perishable foods.
United Way of St. Charles provides more than $22,000 a year to maintain the mobile pantry and its viability.
Each truck carries between 5 to 7,000 pounds of food. The mobile pantries were established in order to deliver food to communities without a stationary food pantry in place.