Jefferson County House of Hope, the Christian nonprofit organization operating the Clearinghouse food pantry, is asking the community to help stock its shelves before its Oct. 1 opening.

The food pantry, located in the lower level of the Clearinghouse building at 100 E. Second St., will include an intake office, waiting area, children's play area, shopping and bagging area, loading dock for truck shipments and a walk-in cooler and freezer.

House of Hope organizers announced during the monthly Clearinghouse planning meeting Tuesday morning that they are looking for organizations planning local food drives.

The program is called Stock Our Shelves (S.O.S.) and information packets are available for organizations interested in learning more about planning, implementing and sorting items for a food drive.

To receive an S.O.S. packet, call volunteer House of Hope board member Judy Means at (812) 866-3620.

Beginning Sept. 16, House of Hope volunteers will be available to accept donations at the food pantry. Volunteers also can arrange to have items picked up if provided a few days notice.

The food pantry will be open to clients on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Food intake days will be Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Clients will be asked to provide proof of residence on an annual basis.

House of Hope is partnering with Gleaners Food Bank. Gleaners estimates that 26 percent of children in Jefferson County are food insecure.

The pantry will accept canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, canned and boxed meals, canned or dried beans, pasta, rice, cereals, frozen processed meats and fresh produce, as well as paper towels, toilet paper and other toiletries.

In other business:

• Two local churches, Good Samaritan Church and North Madison Baptist Church, have joined House of Hope. The organization now includes 12 local committed churches.

• House of Hope board member Vice President Anne Andreasen reported that the food pantry now has a fork lift for the loading area. In addition, Andreasen reported that volunteers will soon begin training for client and food intake. Volunteers also will learn how to assist clients as "guided shoppers."

• Molly Dodge, Clearinghouse coordinator, reported that the Clearinghouse steering committee recently awarded the third phase of renovations to Maxwell Construction. The company also is handling the construction work in the building's lower level - which is the second phase of the renovation project.

The third and final phase of the project includes renovating the first level for office space. A timeline for the work has not been established, though organizers estimate all renovations will wrap up sometime early next year.

• Bethany Circle, a King's Daughters' Health community outreach program, has donated $2,000 toward helping the food pantry with startup costs and purchases.