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First Latino food pantry in Madison County addresses hunger in the community

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Feb 20, 2023

ANDERSON — The first Latino-run food pantry in Madison County is addressing hunger in the community by solving the root causes of the issue and offering resources in hopes of shortening the line.

Las Manos de Jesus Missional Food Pantry is a ministry of Tabernaculo Adoracion Familiar Alpha church in Anderson.

Several of their members graduated with food safety certificates in a ceremony with Faith Hope and Love Community on Sunday.

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FHL is a local non-profit organization that trains food pantries in Central Indiana to address hunger beyond bags of food.

"The purpose of a food pantry is to help someone in need and, while serving, identify the root cause of food insecurity. The purpose of the food pantry is for a greater cause, to empower people and not to enable them, to help them become more sustainable rather than becoming dependent on one organization or system," FHL founder Merlin Gonzales said. "The success of a food pantry is not in lengthening the line, but in helping to shorten the line."

FHL inspires food pantries to not only serve food to the community but provides other resources to help individuals. They train the pantry workers and teach them how to connect with local assistance programs, such as job training, while also offering certifications in food handling.

Las Manos de Jesus Missional Food Pantry founded by Priscila Parra-Azoca was created with a focus on serving Latino communities.

"We know how difficult it can be to communicate or reach out, especially when you have those cultural or language barriers," Parra-Azoca said. "So, we wanted to be able to provide that because we, ourselves have known that struggle, so we wanted to be that hand that would help them."

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Las Manos de Jesus Missional Food Pantry seeks to empower the community both spiritually and with resources that will guide them to a brighter future.

"This food pantry will become a food pantry by the community for the community and for the community and that's what we're looking for in the future," Gonzales said.

The food pantry hopes to be open to serve within the next few months.

In the meantime, they are accepting donations of food and household items. Contact info@fhlinternational.org to learn how to donate.