The Help Center in Mexico is operating under new management that is currently working on ways within the community and around Audrain County to further assist families in need.
Mexico has three independent food distribution sites within the community and another one that operates out of Laddonia. A food bank is scheduled nearly every week in October and signup for the annual Adopt-A-Family program begins at The Help Center Nov. 1.
Help Center Interim Director Gary Jones said Thursday that operations at The Help Center are "going well." He commends the community for its continued support, and said the center's goal is to ensure that the resources needed to help families in need are in place for now and in the future.
Jones said, "Our main goal and mission is to provide help for people less fortunate."
"Our community is so small that the opportunity is here for people to help." Jones said. Last Wednesday, he said The Help Center served 158 local families through its food pantry, and that another one will be offered the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 19) to help serve those in need. In 2011, the agency helped 450 local families through its Adopt-A-Family Christmas program.
The center also operates a daily onsite thrift store and offers free bread and pastries to the public on Mondays, as well as paper product donations when available. Coats are seasonally available. Many of the families served Wednesday were first-timers.
"We have a new punch-card system that shows us that they were new, and that the number of needy is increasing," he said.
To help address that need, he said the Mexico community currently has three food banks, plus one in the county, for local families to use. Following is a list of those agencies, their locations and food distribution dates:
• St. Johns Catholic Church, 602 Elm St., Laddonia, will open its food pantry Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to noon.
• The Help Center, 716 E. Breckenridge, holds its food pantry the first and third Wednesday of each month, unless there are five weeks in the month. The center's hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The next pantries will be Oct 17 and Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to noon.
• The Second Missionary Baptist Church, 418 E. Breckenridge, will hold its food pantry on Oct. 24 from 3-6 p.m.
• The First Presbyterian Church, 400 Lakeview, opens its pantry the second Thursday of each month.
"There was a time when we were the only pantry in town. Now we have more, which is good when people are going through tough times," Jones noted. "It also means that there will be a food bank open every week – which is a true godsend for the community. "
For more information about The Help Center or any of the programs, call the designated site or The Help Center at 581-3238.