by Nathan Boddy
Judy Williams, the manager at Haven House food bank in Hamilton, talks over the sound of a bustling background and explains that the community non-profit is busy, but doing “very well.”
While supply chain setbacks during the worst of the Covid pandemic meant interruptions to delivery and availability, Williams says that Haven House is back up to its operational normal.
“We provide food for about 1800 people,” she says, adding that Haven House serves the population in Hamilton and Corvallis. As an example, Williams says that in December alone they logged 658 visits, and handed out 314 boxes of food. Asked whether the holiday season has much of an impact on need or donations, Williams asserts that the flow in and out of Haven House stays fairly constant.
Haven House relies on food from donations and federal government assistance, but also purchases from all of the Hamilton grocery stores. As a point of reference, Williams says that 40 tons of food was purchased in 2022 from local grocers. Also last year, Haven House accepted 62 tons of ‘gleaned food’ (food that was at or nearing expiration and couldn’t be sold), as well as a tremendous 73 tons from individual donors.
“I know it sounds amazing, doesn’t it?” she asked, adding, “It’s a large amount of food and we have absolutely no complaints.”
Despite the high numbers, it is worth remembering that Haven House provides a service that focuses on a relatively small geographic area and a fairly consistent group of users. The 1800 or so that Williams says are served by Haven House become familiar to the volunteers who work there.
“We know just about everyone who walks in the door,” she says, many of whom come in once a week. Those who register with Haven House are allowed to collect one of the prepared food boxes each month, the contents of which can be customized to include everything from meat to fresh veggies and canned goods.
“People have a choice of what they want,” says Williams, but says the boxes are comprised of “everything that can go on the table.” In 2022, Haven House gave out 3937 boxes.
The Haven House food pantry is located at 316 North 3rd Street on the east (alley side) of the building, and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 2 pm and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7 pm. The phone number is (406) 363-2450.