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Food pantry volunteer Shirley Sears patiently walks a young woman through a series of questions on an application for emergency assistance. After they complete the form, Sears tells the woman she has one more question."Is there anything," Sears asks, "that you would like us to pray with you about?"
Yes, the woman replies without hesitation. Reaching across the small desk that separates them, Sears grasps the woman's hands and begins to pray.
That scene has been repeated thousands of times over the past 15 years inside this small, southern Indiana food pantry operated by non-profit Community Provisions of Jackson County. This month, the practice was found to be against federal policy, leaving the pantry's founder with a Solomon-like choice: Stop the prayers or give up truckloads of free food provided through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program....