Bread of Life Food Pantry reorganizes

BALDWIN — The Bread of Life Food Pantry, the inter-faith food service based out of St. Ann's Church in Baldwin, will reorganize its governing structure to better serve patrons.

This new structure for the group includes new official leadership including the Rev. Bruce Whitney, pastor of Baldwin Congregational Church, as president and Father Ronald Schneider, pastor of St. Ann's Catholic Church, as vice-president. Although both were heavily involved with the group before, their roles in making decisions about how the pantry is run is more clear. Whitney said this and the other changes will better help them assist the public.

"We decided to become more structured and organized," said Whitney. "Father Joe, who was Father Ron's predecessor at St. Ann's, started the pantry and put out the call to the other churches, but it all had a very loose structure. So now we wrote up a constitution, we have a more formal board and elected leadership."

Whitney explained this new structure will allow the food pantry to be better organized, more efficient and have more control over its resources. Despite being an interfaith organization, the funds all went through St. Ann's out of necessity. Now the pantry has its own budget and accounts giving it far more autonomy.

Coinciding with this shake-up, Kathy Merchant, a long-time member of the food pantry, was named food pantry director after Susan Brown-Havens stepped down from the position this month.

"It was very difficult for Sue Brown-Havens to keep it all together before, but she did a great job despite the confusion. She did a lot for us and I'm afraid we wore her out," said Whitney. "Kathy Merchant is the new food pantry director now and she's been working there for a while. She stepped right into Sue's shoes and she's a wonderfully kind and caring person."

Whitney wants to assure the community these changes will not alter the way the pantry serves the community. It will still offer food to the community from noon to 3 p.m. each Wednesday, and their policies with the public will be the same.

"It doesn't change our mission," said Whitney. "We're still an organization for the whole community, staffed and supported by a large number of Lake County's churches. Our goal is to help people and we think this new organization will help us do that."