Mobile Food Pantries
Mobile Food Pantries
Agape Food Bank holds an average of three mobile pantries per month in local communities in Polk, Hardee and Highlands Counties that have an overwhelming need for food resources.
“The need is here,” said Dorothy Warner, a volunteer who has served with the mobile food pantries.
The Mobile Food Pantries enable Agape to partner with caring members of the community to provide canned and dry goods as well as fresh produce and other grocery items. The set up is similar to a farmer’s market in that needy families are able to “shop” for food and select items that best meet their nutritional and personal preferences.
“We don’t turn anyone away that needs it,” Warner said. “I met a lady on the line that said she hadn’t eaten in two days, and it hurt my heart.”
“It’s part of our mission to feed nutritionally,” said Kim Long, Director of Agape Food Bank. “Many of the communities in our service area are lucky to have even a convenience store, let alone easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Polk County ranks eighth in the nation for food hardship with over 137,000 individuals living in poverty. Nearly 48,000 of those individuals are children.
Organizing a mobile food pantry requires coordination and lots of people in place to make it happen. Agape warehouse staff load refrigerated Mobile Pantry trucks with pallets stacked with food and related products. The food is then delivered to the designated distribution site and staff together with volunteers, unload, sort, and pre-bag portions. The set-up is similar to a farmer’s market in that needy families are then able to “shop” for food and select the items that best meet their nutritional and personal preferences.
A typical distribution contains between eight and 10 thousand pounds of food and feeds up to 250 families.
About 20 volunteers commit four hours of their time to help with this effort. Duties include pantry set-up, food sorting, assisting clients with food selections, bagging and carrying groceries, and assisting with break-down and clean-up.