Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brethren Service in Northern Indiana - Part 2

Soon after the establishment of Civilian Public Service Camps, the question of providing food for the men in those camps came to the fore front of attention. It was thought that the people of our churches would be glad to provide food for the men in the camps if the food could be moved to where it was needed. A preliminary letter was sent to a number of the churches in Indiana and other nearby states, announcing that a truck would be around at a certain date to collect those contributions of foodstuffs.

The route started from Lagro, Indiana, to the west and south, then east across Ohio, and back across the northern part of Ohio, returning to Camp Lagro. Long before the circuit had been completed the truck was filled. It seemed that the idea was successful.

One of the interested members of the church in Indiana donated a truck which could be used for the purpose of collecting food. Two men were assigned to the driving of the truck. A system of record keeping was established; depots were set up in various churches. Fruit jars by the carload were purchased and distributed for home canning. Thus began the food project of the Brethren Service Committee.

At first these collected foods were stored at Camp Lagro and were taken to other camps in the region. Before long it was realized that merely dropping off at the most convenient camp the food collected on a trip would result in surpluses at some spots and scarcities at others. ...

A new storage was found at New Paris, Indiana, in a store building which could be heated during the winter months. It seemed that this place might be amply large, for it would hold a number of truckloads of food. It was not long, however, until this, too, was filled to capacity. ... A new space was sought. It was found in Nappanee. Trucks and men from the Northern Indiana District moved the tons of food from New Paris to Nappanee, and this, in turn, became the center of the trucking operations, not only for the central region, but also for other parts of the country. Needless to say the first small trucks were soon outgrown, and were replaced by a tractor and semi-trailer. Later on, the Brethren Service Center was operating five of these tractor-trailer trucks.

It was but a step from the home canning of food for this purpose to the establishment of a canning factory which could be used to produce food in tins for shipping overseas. That story tomorrow.

Source: History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana, 1952