Logo with words in a circle that say "IPM Food Pantry ~ Feeding Families. Nourishing Souls." Includes a circle and a line drawing of a heart, cross, and person reaching up.

HUUC and IPM – a Long Association of Doing Good for our Neighbors

Written by Bob Drake and Barb Barnes

IPM (Inter Parish Ministry) has long been a recipient of HUUC’s (Heritage’s) monetary and physical donations as well as the donation of many members’ time. However, many of us at Heritage don’t know much about IPM and the many ways HUUC supports IPM.

IPM describes their history on their website, https://www.ipmfoodpantry.org/, as follows: “Since our founding in 1964 by four local churches, IPM Food Pantry has focused on feeding families in need to create a thriving community. IPM has expanded its reach, through collaboration, from a single pantry into more than 30 zip codes spanning four counties. The 2020 pandemic caused us to shift — as need increased and indoor access ceased — to drive-through and mobile pantries. In 2022 IPM provided nearly 40 mobile food pantries and almost 65 percent of our clients are served in their communities with Mobiles, Pop-Ups and through our Food Resource Hub.”

This last year, IPM continued to grow, both in physical space and accomplishments, as follows: 

  • Opening a new, much larger food pantry and distribution center at 4623 Aicholtz Road in Union Township to replace the Newtown and Amelia locations.

Photo caption: The new IPM Union Township location
Image source: https://tinyurl.com/yavjbjb8

  • 45 kitchens outfitted through the Fresh Start Kitchens Program.
  • 112 zip codes served with access to food in Ohio.
  • 165,863 pounds of food distributed to 8,579 households through IPM’s Food Resource Hubs.
  • 1,340,635 pounds of groceries provided to 29,326 families in need.
  • 4,562 families received groceries at 38 Mobile Pantries and 64 Pop-up Pantries.   

IPM’s numerous programs consist of:

  • Food Pantry
  • Mobile Food Pantries
  • Pop-up Pantries
  • Christmas Sign-ups
  • Giving Boxes
  • Food Resource Hubs
  • Power Pack Program
  • Back Pack Program
  • Fresh Start Kitchen Program
  • Community Picnics.

The IPM website, cited above, describes these programs in more detail.

Once a month, Heritage donates to IPM all non-pledged funds from our Sunday morning worship service collection plates. In addition, we have in the great hall the continual donations drop-off shopping cart for collection of physical donations. Further donations are possible on-line, as explained in the description of the easy steps to donations at https://huuc.net/support-articles/.

Numerous HUUC members have and continue to provide many hours of their personal efforts to the many IPM programs offered to the community at large. HUUC volunteering members’ comments ranged over a wide variety of perspectives and their giving opportunities, but not without some prodding. As HUUC volunteer Mike Roberts commented, “We are not very good at blowing our own horn!”

IPM Volunteers

Photo caption: Just a few HUUC/IPM volunteers at the IPM warehouse,
Flanking photos left and right: Mike Roberts, Ann Roberts, respectively.
 Center photo clockwise from left: Bob Drake, Dave Small, Jackie Drake, Robin Wicket, Steph Tacy.
Photos courtesy of Bob Drake.

Some HUUC volunteers provided general, interpersonal reflections, such as the comments of Bob Drake that, “We hear the back stories, see the tears (of loss or gratitude), we laugh with those we’ve come to know. We work together, volunteers from diverse backgrounds, united in the desire to help.”

Another HUUC volunteer, Neal Watzman, provided a historical perspective. “I’ve been a volunteer at IPM for more than 10 years, watching the food pantry grow from a single location in Newtown to adding a second pantry in Amelia, to now being located in a beautiful new building in Union Township. I love volunteering at IPM, and especially enjoy the people. Our mission, shown on the back of my purple IPM t-shirt, is ‘Feeding Families, Nourishing Souls.’ It is with deep gratitude and joy that I can give back to my community through the good work at IPM.”

Many HUUC member volunteers help with specific activities such as record keeping, packing, and shopping needs. Some volunteers work with specific efforts such as Christmas gift shopping, mobile pantries, and the Fresh Start Kitchens program.

According to HUUC member, Meredith Meyer, “My kids really enjoyed shopping for holiday gifts to share with other kids through the IPM Christmas Store. It was really nice to tie together the HUUC Sunday offering, a family service project, and our long time relationship with IPM.”

Ann Roberts commented on her work with the mobile, rural panties, “This outreach connects with families who are in towns with no grocery store. I think my favorite mobile pantry is in Felicity, Ohio. We are there once a month throughout the summer. This gives me an opportunity to get to know some of our neighbors from that community.”

Jackie Drake explained that, “Delivering a full kitchen’s worth of supplies from IPM is not only a joy for the recipients, it is great for volunteers to get to meet the neighbors we serve in their new dwellings, to meet their kids and pets on their home ground.”

However, there is always room for more volunteers. IPM’s website lists some possibilities:

  • Choice Pantry Volunteer: Welcome, check in and assist shoppers in the choice pantry.
  • Drive-Through Pantry Volunteer: Organize, gather, and load food items into cars to assist neighbors as they drive through the pantry.
  • Donation Stocking: Date check and organize shelves with donations.
  • Preparing Meal Kits and Emergency Food Boxes: Package food items into meal kits and emergency boxes for families.
  • Office Help: Answer phones, retrieve voice mails, and/or help with other projects.
  • Mobile Food Pantries: Help at mobile pantry locations by unloading food and providing it to IPM families.
  • Neighbor Intake: Utilize computer database to check-in clients (special training is required).
  • Back-to-School Program: Register families, help them select school supplies, and/or write notes for students.
  • Christmas Gift Store: Assist clients with selecting gifts for their families.

Please help HUUC continue to help IPM and our community via any of these many avenues to do good for our neighbors.

Lead Image: IPM logo from their website, https://www.ipmfoodpantry.org/