People line up for at least half a block on the sidewalk of North Fayette Street. Why are people lining the sidewalks? Why are they waiting?
They are waiting for The King’s Kettle Food Pantry to open its doors. The King’s Kettle Food Pantry distributes various food items to hundreds of Shippensburg residents on the first three Tuesdays of every month.
Pastor J.R. Wells began the outreach 17 years ago with his wife with only one cupboard full of cereal.
Four, maybe five families used the food pantry at first. But after about six months, Wells said it increased to about 50 families. The pantry took off from there.
The King’s Kettle now serves about 350 families from the Shippensburg Area School District per month.
In order to meet the demands of the food bank, The King’s Kettle relies on donations as well as sponsors, partners and funding agencies. Local companies and national agencies aid The King’s Kettle.
Stores such as Weis, Giant and Walmart donate to the food bank. The local Lions and Kiwanis clubs also help The King’s Kettle.
Everybody who works at the food pantry is a volunteer.
The volunteers do everything from bag food, run carts out to cars, find out how many people need what and get food out of the freezer.
Wells said he does not know how it happens, but every Tuesday, there are people there to help.
“Everybody here is from different walks of life. We have people from every area. They’re here for one common goal — to help those that are in need here in Shippensburg,” Wells said.
Shippensburg University students volunteer at The King’s Kettle, along with SU’s alumni who come once a year, too.
The alumni come on a Friday and help stock shelves.
At the end of last year, SU President William Ruud, heard that The King’s Kettle was in need, so he sent out an email asking for help.
Wells said the next thing he knew, people were showing up with all kinds of food. Wells, who worked at the university for 25 years, spoke to vice president for Student Affairs, Roger Serr, who explained Ruud’s email. The donations got the food bank through the winter.
Not only did the donations get The King’s Kettle through the winter, but also those who use the services.
One patron who has been using The King’s Kettle for a little over a year said, “It helps put food on the shelves and in the refrigerator and into the children’s stomachs. Without it, I don’t know how I’d make it through the month.”
Another patron said, “If you run out of food, there’s usually something there you can make.”
Somebody standing in line chimed in and said, “I was making pumpkin pies on Saturday because I wanted some desserts.”
When it comes to the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, The King’s Kettle provides holiday baskets.
Volunteers give out a complete turkey dinner, including a turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, corn and more.
Wells said they gave out 325 turkey baskets last Thanksgiving. They are anticipating 350 or more for this Thanksgiving.
Last year, The King’s Kettle served about 42,500 individuals and went through about 660,000 pounds of food last year.
“I know the numbers because nobody believes me. I don’t believe it either, but I added it up three times and said ‘Man, this can’t be,’ but it was,” Wells said.
The food comes from all over the state and even parts of Maryland. Wells drives to get it. He said wherever he needs to go, he will go.
“In a way, I’m encouraged, but in a way, it breaks my heart,” Wells said. “You see what you’re doing. When you look back tonight and see how many families you went through, you think, ‘How did we do that?’”
Food donations can be made at 30 N. Fayette St. and monetary donations can be sent to P.O. Box 575 Shippensburg, Pa. 17257. Donations are tax deductible.