Hungry Hearts

The Lord’s Pantry of Downingtown

More and more financially strapped families in Downingtown, Exton and Lionville are being blessed by the Lord’s Pantry these days. As the economy mopes along, this emergency food provider has seen a 30-percent upsurge in registered low-income households. “We’re over 500 families right now,” says director Jan Leaf. “We’re having a difficult time keeping food because it leaves so quickly. It comes in the front door and goes out the back door.”

Those doors provide entry to a 3,200-square-foot storage space purchased mortgage-free in March 2007 thanks to donations and grants. Each month, families pick up a four- to five-day supply of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, toilet paper, soap and a variety of non-perishables. At Christmas, the Lord’s Pantry also provides toys and holiday dinners—all with the support of the Delaware Valley Children’s Charity, the Giving Tree, schools, churches and generous individuals. “The thing that sets us apart from other [organizations] is that we’re 100-percent volunteer—there isn’t one paid position,” says Leaf, who’s been involved for 18 years. “It’s only through the support of our faithful donors that we’re able to connect people who care with people in need.”

The 45-year-old nonprofit and its 90 volunteers are inspired by one mission: to end suffering from hunger. But their supplemental food assistance can only do so much. Registered households fall at least 150 percent below the poverty threshold. “Some parents have told us they’ve been forced to feed their children cereal for dinner,” Leaf says. “It’s getting rougher and rougher for them to make it.”

To learn more, call (610) 873-1149 or visit

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