Hot Springs Food Pantry helps feed the hungry of area
By Cathy Nelson
HOT SPRINGS - The Hot Springs Food Pantry feeds about 300 people every month according to its manager, Chris Martin. That number increases to 350 during the fall and winter months, especially in November and December.
“We jump through hoops to help people in the community,” Martin said. “And, we don’t ask questions.”
The number of people who use the food pantry has increased in the last couple years, said Amy Pucket, who is the personnel manager.
The Hot Springs Ministerial Association is the overseer of the food pantry. “I think it’s really cool that we have all the churches helping us out,” Pucket said. “It’s cool to see everyone working together.”
Feeding South Dakota in Rapid City is a good source for food, but there is a charge for transportation to Hot Springs, Pucket explained. She and Martin said they appreciate the cooperation of Sonny’s Super Foods that not only boxes up food for the pantry but also allows them to purchase an unlimited number of sale items.
Civic organizations, businesses, and churches hold food drives throughout the year, which bring in a big share of the food and cash needed to fill the pantry’s shelves. “The community is very, very good at donating food,” Pucket said. “We also have people donate hams and turkeys, mainly at Christmas.”
“The community really steps up to the plate,” Martin said. “A lot of people are really helpful.”
The pantry is manned by volunteers. They fill grocery bags in proportions for families and for individuals and have them ready for clients to pick up. The clients may also select extra grocery items from the shelves or the refrigerators. Items such as cereal, cake mixes, rice, canned fruit, beans, noodles, potatoes, spaghetti, peanut butter and much more are available, and sometimes fresh produce, such as apples, cucumbers, and squash, is donated. In one refrigerator there are hot dogs and venison. Sometimes people donate treats, such as candy, juice boxes, or popcorn or other small items, such as toothbrushes and soap.
“All that comes in goes out unless it’s out of date,” Pucket said. “When people need food, they really need it, you have to use your heart.”
Volunteers work on a rotating schedule to help hand out the food to clients. The pantry’s hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. People may pick up food once a month. The pantry is located in the Sandstar building on north Chicago Street, across the hall from Community Action.
“We thank everyone who supports the food pantry,” Pucket said. “We really appreciate it a lot. We couldn’t do it without them.”
ABOVE: Volunteers sack food for families and individuals to have it ready to pick up when the food pantry is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Customers may also choose additional items from the shelves or refrigerators.
LEFT: The Hot Springs Ministerial Association Food Pantry manager Chris Martin, left, and personnel manager Amy Puckett work together with the help of countless others who volunteer to distribute the food or who conduct food drives to make sure food is available for those in need.
Photos by Cathy Nelson/
Fall River County Herald