Hancock County Food Pantry Reopens

The food bank that had provided nutritious meals to thousands of needy families in Hancock County before Hurricane Katrina has reopened in a new location. It's previous location in Bay St. Louis was severely damaged by the storm.

Pantry leaders say the service the pantry provides will be more important than ever in a post-Katrina Hancock County.

Volunteers spent Thursday morning stocking the shelves and filling grocery bags for the hungry.

"It's just scripture, Al. Matthew, chapter 25 tells us we have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the sick. I don't consider that to be optional, that's what we're expected to do," Bill Blaisdell said.

Blaisdell has been a volunteer at the Hancock County Food Pantry for five years. He was recently named director.

"Right now, we're not seeing a lot of people. We're not sure what the dynamics of that is. It's probably several things, a lot of people are just probably not around because of the storm. A lot of people probably don't know we're here."

Before Katrina, the pantry helped about 50 needy families a day. Now, that number is considerably lower. With many people suffering financially because of Katrina, Blaisdell says he knows the need is great.

"As the points of distribution begin to close down, we're going to see a pretty rapid increase in clients here... I suspect that the need is going to pick up drastically in the coming months."

Pantry volunteers say they are ready and waiting to fill those needs.

"I believe it's what we need to do for the community and to show support, so that nobody is forgotten," Pantry volunteer Ann Simpson said.

The new Waveland location of the Food Pantry is at 716 Herlihy Street. The distribution hours will remain the same: 9am-Noon, Monday through Friday.

by Al Showers