When a community food pantry at Brownstown Central High School stopped for a few months, staff members realized how much it’s needed.

Not only were area residents benefiting from the pantry, students received help, too.

Derrick Koch, a guidance counselor at the high school, and a few of his coworkers took action to revive the pantry.

Since then, it has helped about 70 families each month.

“I just think it’s necessary that we’re a part of the community,” Koch said. “I think it’s necessary from a Christian standpoint, too, that we do some service. I think that’s what God calls us to do. It’s really why I’m doing it. I think that’s why a majority of these (volunteers) are doing it, too, because it’s important to give back.”

Gleaners Food Bank contacted the school a few years ago to see if it was interested in hosting a food pantry. The school agreed because it didn’t come at any cost. Gleaners only asked for a room to house the pantry, and the organization provided the shelving, a refrigerator and a freezer.

Through an online ordering system, Koch chooses an allotment of food from Gleaners to stock the shelves.

From 4 to 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, residents can stop by the high school to receive up to 20 or 25 items, including canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter and jelly and frozen and refrigerated foods.

Koch said there are times outside of the monthly pantry day when students or community residents express a need for food, so he will open it up for them.

“I’m glad we do this because there are a lot of older folks that need it, but I’m really more interested in having this because it helps the kids at school in case they need to have food,” he said. “If they are not eating that school lunch, then they are probably not eating something at home, and that’s really what prompted all of this.”

Koch said Gleaners also provides toilet paper and laundry soap for those in need, and community members occasionally donate personal hygiene items to hand out on pantry days.

“We’re always looking for people to donate personal hygiene items,” he said. “If people donate money, I will buy hygiene items.”

The only data Gleaners requires the school to track are the age group of the clients and the number of veterans and families served.

Koch and other staff members who volunteer with the pantry help clients make their selections and will help carry items to their vehicle if needed.

“They’ve been really faithful about doing it for several months now,” Koch said of the staff volunteers.

Kris Pride is among those volunteers. She works with classrooms at Brownstown Elementary School and said students and their families benefit from the pantry.

“I just enjoy helping,” she said. “It’s very good for our community. I think they really depend on it.”

Brownstown residents who aren’t able to make it to the school’s pantry can go to Brownstown Church of the Nazarene, which offers a pantry from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursdays. People can visit that pantry once every three months.

If you go

Brownstown Central High School, 500 N. Elm St., hosts a community food pantry from 4 to 6 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.

Brownstown Church of the Nazarene, 616 W. Commerce St., hosts a community food pantry from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursdays. People can visit that pantry once every three months.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.