Food Pantry

Food Pantry at the Old Stone Church 

In 1994 Donn VanSchelven met with then pastor Rod Johnson to talk about needs in the community.  Pastor Johnson suggested that he had been approached by several families who could use help with groceries from time to time and that a noble pursuit would be the establishment of some sort of food bank.  Donn took the idea and turned it into a passion which is now known as the Old Stone Church Food Pantry, or simply, “The Pantry.”

When the Pantry began Donn went from door to door and among his friends to solicit donations of food and monetary gifts.  He was able to help a few families from time to time with their grocery needs.  The needs of the area quickly grew in the number of people who come for assistance and in the numbers of families that use the Pantry.  Currently the Pantry is serving an average of 60+ families each week as it serves the residents of Rockton, Roscoe, Shirland, Harrison, and South Beloit.  Requirements for receiving groceries are a valid State of Illinois identification card or driver’s license along with proof of current residence in one of the communities stated above.  The Pantry services are available from 9:30a-Noon on Thursdays.

The Pantry is an ecumenical and civic undertaking which receives groceries and financial gifts from many sources.  Among those who participate in this ministry are: Churches, civic group and service organizations, individuals, schools, foundations, and businesses.  The success and tenure of the Pantry has made it a reliable and trusted vehicle for helping those in need.  People are treated with dignity and compassion as Christ would treat them and as anyone would want to be treated in their time of need.

In addition to the weekly Pantry services to families, the Old Stone Church Food Pantry began a “backpack program” in 2011 to help children in need.  The Rockton Grade School and Stephen Mack Middle School have identified children whose families may be having difficulty providing groceries for the weekend.  Each week backpacks are filled with basic supplies and dropped off at the schools.  The children stop in the school office on their way home from school and pick up their backpack, then return the empty pack to school on the following Monday.  In the 2011-2012 school year the pantry was preparing 36 backpacks each week for those in need.  In addition, this program spawned a similar program currently provided by the Roscoe United Methodist Church.

Another element of the Pantry’s ministry is the Thanksgiving Baskets.  The week before Thanksgiving 60 orders are taken for baskets which include a turkey and all the foods necessary for a good Thanksgiving meal.  These baskets of food are especially helpful in allowing families to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with their larger family without the stress of extra costs.

Finally, over the years people have given special financial gifts for the Pantry to provide some Christmas gifts for children.  Since the needs of families might be better known through the personal contacts through the Pantry a list of needs can be compiled.  The Pantry manager or volunteers shop for gifts for children and help to provide some of these gifts to help families in need.