Sixteenth Section UMC youth take food pantry on the road

COURTESY PHOTO

Using grant funds awarded by the 200,000 Reasons to Fight Childhood Hunger initiative and contributions from the senior adult Sunday school class, the youth of Sixteenth Section UMC have increased the reach of the church’s food pantry by taking it closer to Lonoke County-area residents who need it.

The church purchased and outfitted a trailer as a mobile food pantry and on Jan. 22 used it for the first time, taking it to apartment complexes housing families with low incomes. They provided food to more than 20 families at their first stop. Individuals were able to walk through the trailer and choose the food that would best meet their household’s needs.

Options in the trailer included canned goods, milk, eggs, meat, bread and a few household items. Because they are taking the food to the people instead of expecting them to come to the church building, they now give away more food in one Sunday than they used to in a year.

The Sixteenth Section youth group came up with the idea for the mobile pantry last fall. They began identifying areas of need and visiting them to offer the food pantry stock before the trailer arrived. They loaded bins of food in the church van, or members’ trucks or SUVs, along with tables and a sign. Youth group members would set up tables, place the food on tables and go door to door to let residents know they were there to give out food.

Youth director Shawna Criswell prepares fliers to distribute in advance to the areas where the mobile pantry will stop. Currently, they deliver food every other Sunday, but with the trailer expanding their capacity, the church expects to be able to set a more frequent schedule soon.

—submitted by Larry Grace