Friday, October 16, 2015

TOP STORY >> Food pantry marks 40 years

Cabot Church of Christ food pantry volunteers Chuck Coburn (left) and Steve Stephens load groceries into a car for a family in need. Some recipients have simply lost their jobs.

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Church of Christ food pantry has been helping the less fortunate for nearly 40 years. It began serving meals in the community after the devastating tornado of 1976. Last month, the pantry served 147 families.

Food is given to those in financial need, and their financial statements are reviewed during an interview process. Eligible families that receive groceries from the pantry once a month must meet federal poverty levels and be residents of Lonoke County.

The pantry at 500 N. Second St. is open from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.

Kroger, Harp’s Foods stores and others supply the nonprofit with meats that don’t sell by the expiration dates.

In September, the demand for food grew and the pantry almost ran out of food to distribute, according to pantry director Bob Arnold said.

About those who use the pantry, he added, “Some have lost their jobs.”

The pantry is supported monetarily by private individuals. It gets food from Arkansas Rice Depot for free and orders $1,000 worth of groceries monthly from the Arkansas Food Bank.

People in need receive five bags of groceries — two bags of canned fruits and vegetables, a bag containing pasta and bread, a bag of frozen meats, such as ground beef, steak, bratwurst, and a bag of fresh fruit.

The pantry has 10 volunteers.

“There is a lot of work here that has to be done prior to distribution. We have to uncrate food, shelve it and bag it,” Arnold said.

“We are seeking people to get involved. You go home with great satisfaction of having done something. If they can come in after work to unbox and bag, we work that out with them,” he noted.

Volunteer Elizabeth Davis said, “Every time I give and help, I am so blessed. It makes me feel good that I am not the ones in line. I like being able to help.”

Sue Gage added, “I like to volunteer. It is a meaningful place to volunteer.”

Arnold said, “We have the most wonderful volunteers. They work hard and leave with a good feeling that they served somebody. All of the volunteers are compassionate. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Friend’s House is a soup kitchen next door to the food pantry. In September, 983 people were served. Hot meals for the community are offered from 11:30 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sack lunches are given out Tuesday and Thursday.

Friend’s House has helped with extra food left over from weddings and potlucks.