The Fort Irwin Chapel Community is thrilled to announce some wonderful new changes to the Food Pantry Program. The new program, put in place June 1, will greatly improve the chapelâ€™s ability to provide Soldiers and family members with emergency assistance.
The food pantry is funded through donations to the Chapelâ€™s Operation Helping Hand account. In addition, 5 percent of every regular chapel offering is transferred into OHH. Currently, the chapel buys the food from the commissary and then stocks the pantry. Individuals needing assistance choose items from the pantry as needed.Â With the new improvements to the program, individuals will be provided a Commissary voucher and be able to purchase the items they need directly from the Commissary.
While the food pantry has been a wonderful blessing to many Fort Irwin families, there are some significant drawbacks to the program. First, and foremost, with a pantry individuals are limited to what happens to be in stock at the time. With a voucher they are able to purchase anything the commissary sells (with the exception of any tobacco or alcohol products.)Â With the food pantry, individuals are limited to chapel duty hours. With a voucher they will be free to shop at the Commissary during its regular business hours, including weekends.Â Placing a Commissary voucher in the hands of families in need eliminates the middle man and gives them the freedom to purchase the items their family specifically needs to make ends meet.
The goal of Operation Helping Hand is to provide one-time emergency assistance in the form of a commissary voucher for Soldiers and family members in the amount of $100 per couple, plus $25 per child (maximum amount of $200 per family.) It is not an entitlement or supplemental program. It is a way for to offer a helping hand to others during times of need. The process begins with the unit chaplain. Individuals desiring assistance should contact their chaplain for an OHH form.Â Units may also refer Soldiers to their chaplain for OHH assistance.