Harvest House, a local non-profit organization, recently found a new way to fight food insecurity in Paris and Edgar County: a blessing box. The box, an accessible container filled with food and located in front of Harvest House’s new 118 East Court Street location, is helping people of all ages stay nourished during the frigid winter months.
According to Kenneth Brown, Harvest House’s president, roughly 10-15 sacks of food have been distributed from the box per day since it was built in October. The blessing box usually has to be restocked twice daily – a sure sign it is doing its job.
“I’ve seen 80-year-old people to teens pick that stuff up,” said Brown. “That tells me there’s a need for food at all age ranges.”
The blessing box is stocked with sacks full of high-quality, nutritious snacks available to anyone in need. Snack packs can hold a variety of foods, including fruits, protein bars, crackers, cheese and more.
The food and supplies included in the blessing box are picked up from Midwest Food Bank in Normal, Ill. twice a month. MFB also supplies the resources Harvest House distributes during its monthly food drive. During October’s drive, 110 vehicles visited Harvest House to collect food and supplies.
Harvest House is accomplishing its mission of feeding and providing for those in need, but the organization is facing other struggles.
“Funding is a big concern,” said Brown.
While Harvest House still has food to distribute, other expenses and operating costs weigh on Brown and his wife, Harvest House vice president Virginia English, they rely on donations to pay for utilities.
“Most of the time we put our own money into it,” said Brown, later adding, “People don’t realize how much it takes to run this place.”
Although Brown, English and Harvest House are relatively new to the community, they hope the people of Paris and Edgar County will see the difference they are making for the city’s most disadvantaged people.
“Paris has a lot of homeless people, people are hungry,” Brown explained. “This is one way we can give back to the community… we just want to serve the people.”
In addition to monetary funds, Harvest House is always looking for volunteers to help prepare snack packs, staff food drives and perform other tasks as needed. Currently, Harvest House relies on the volunteer labor of some of the displaced people they serve to prepare food for distribution.
Harvest House’s mission and impact are clear according to Brown.
“We’re God-fearing people and we do a lot of good,” he explained.
To learn more about Harvest House and potential volunteer opportunities, Brown and English can be contacted at 217-264-0670 or visited at their new building on Court Street, east of the square.
Donations can also be sent to P.O. Box 118, Paris, IL 61944. Harvest House is a registered non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible.