Most of the donations are now going to women and children.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Over the past year, donations to the only Trumbull County food bank dedicated exclusively to AIDS patients have dropped by half, even though the number of people needing its help grows.
They are probably not the people you think.
"When I started 10 years ago we were seeing gay young men," said Elda Schueller, who runs Terry's Pantry, a project of the Trumbull County AIDS Task Force.
"We don't see them anymore. It's now the women and children."
Women and children now make up about three-quarters of the 17 families who need food from the task force to make it through the end of the month. That's up from 10 families needing regular help one year ago, Shueller said.
On a shoestring
Terry's Pantry -- named for Schueller's 37-year-old son, who died in 1992 -- runs on a shoestring from a donated room in downtown Warren.
As well as making regular monthly deliveries in her 7-year-old minivan, Schueller forwards supplies to the Ursuline Sisters in Canfield, who care for AIDS patients and give food to other patients in a pinch.
She has been busy. Last week, there was one call for emergency food on Christmas Eve and two on the day after the holiday.
A balanced diet is important to maintain the health of people carrying the AIDS virus, said Mike Whitney, head of the task force. "Some of these people are just too sick to work," he said.
Terry's Kitchen receives no federal, state or grant money.
Students at Warren G. Harding High School and members of Christ Episcopal Church collected food for the pantry this year, allowing the group to donate 37 boxes of food to be distributed by Ursuline Sisters.
Cash donations, however, have plummeted.
Terry's Kitchen collected $5,000 in 2002, compared with $10,000 in 2001. The money is used to assist people in emergencies, Schueller said.
"In Warren, we have two gay bars that carry us," she said. "They have come through and found donors. They are the only people I have to answer to."
At the Queen of Hearts, one of the bars, patrons have been encouraged all month to bring in food to place at a small Christmas tree on the dance floor. So far, the bar has brought in eight big boxes of food and $300 cash, said Tristan Hand, an owner.
"Right now, they give more food to people who are not homosexual," Hand said of the pantry. "They help children, mothers of children."