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Food Pantry's location 'in limbo'

Community Sharing Food Pantry operates out of the Kerrigan/Lockhart Medical Office Building at 2140IndianaAve. for the time being.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

Community Sharing Food Pantry's future is up in the air as ownership of the building it uses has become muddled, at least temporarily, by the purchase of Fayette Regional Health System.

Community Sharing is located in a building owned by Fayette Regional at 2140 Indiana Ave. called the Kerrigan/Lockhart Medical Office Building. Three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, volunteers open the door so people can come in and get food.

The building's future is cloudy. Reid Health, based in Richmond, is purchasing all but three buildings owned by Fayette Regional. Kerrigan/Lockhart is one of the buildings that is not going to be part of Reid. 

"While Reid Health has agreed to purchase a substantial portion of the assets of Fayette Regional Health System, the property at 2140 Indiana Avenue ... , where the Food Pantry currently operates, is not part of the assets we intend to acquire," Reid Health told the Connersville News-Examiner in an email. "Reid Health is not involved in any decisions that FRHS may be making regarding that building. It is our understanding that this property will likely be auctioned at a future date in the bankruptcy process."

Fayette Regional did not respond to the Connersville News-Examiner's questions about the building's future.

So, "We're just kind of in limbo," Ruth Hamilton, president of Community Sharing, said on Monday. The pantry doesn't know whether to begin looking for new quarters or if someone might buy the building and let Community Sharing use it. 

Another Community Sharing volunteer said his worry is that the creditors in Fayette Regional's bankruptcy won't allow the food pantry to continue using the building at no charge, as it does now.

Maybe, Hamilton said, someone else has another building with a lot of space that they'd be willing to let the pantry use.

Besides storage areas for the non-perishable food and supplies, the food pantry has five freezers and two refrigerators that would need to move.

Volunteer David Gettinger said he is hopeful that food pantry won't be forced to move. He's already helped move it twice before and noted that he and many other volunteers are elderly, unable to help with much of the heavy work.

 

The Fayette County needle exchange program is located in the same building. For about a year, Fayette Regional has operated that program as a public service under a contract with the Fayette County Health Department. The county does not pay the hospital for that service.

Users of illegal drugs can come to the needle exchange for clean syringes. The hope is that by providing sanitary equipment, the spread of deadly diseases such as hepatitis among drug users can be contained. The needle exchange started in Fayette County in 2017.

Reid Health said it "has supported the Fayette County needle exchange with supplies in the past, and would certainly be interested in doing so in the future. Our experience is that these programs are typically administered and operated by County Health Departments as a function of Public Health."

At the Fayette County Health Department, Megan Sparks said on Monday that she didn't know about plans for the needle exchange.