Four Springfield food pantries can better address the nutrition needs of the community in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic following a donation from the Community Health Foundation (CHF).
The Foundation’s board of trustees approved $8,800 in funding to purchase new refrigeration units for the pantries at Masjid An Nur Mosque, West Liberty St.; St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, 34 West Pleasant St.; Victory Faith Center, 424 South Fountain Ave.; and Good Samaritan Outreach Center, 427 West Washington St.
As the pandemic has led to cancellation of the CHF’s two biggest yearly events – its annual meeting in March and fall health expo – the organization has looked for other outlets to serve. Addressing community needs created by the pandemic was an answer.
According to Tyra Jackson, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, which supplies the pantries, demand for food from pantries and food banks is up more than 60 percent locally. CHF responded by donating $15,000 to Second Harvest and $10,000 to the Clark County Combined Health District earlier this summer.
That wasn’t the end. The Creating Healthy Communities Coalition, of which CHF is a member, reached out about the refrigerators and the board recognized the need according to CHF executive director Joy Rogers.
“We have two purposes: A clinical side and outreach and this fits what we do,” she said. “The coalition reached out to us to improve the health and welfare in our community. The need was obvious. Many people have lost jobs due to the pandemic.”
A requirement was the units had to be professional-grade. Rogers said that is due to many pantry users having transportation issues and this helps keep the food fresher for longer.
“We’re doing what we can to help our neighbors,” Rogers said.
Creating Healthy Communities is managing the units, which cost which cost $2,100 each, and ensuring at least half of the food in the refrigerators are fruits and vegetables. The need for such foods is essential as both CHF and CHC promote healthy eating as a key to a better lifestyle.
The new professional-grade appliance couldn’t have come at a better time for Good Samaritan Outreach Center because its refrigeration unit had become undependable. Since reopening in August following a shutdown during the pandemic, the organization sees about 100 individuals and 30 families on Saturday mornings it’s open.
The center also offers clothes, personal hygiene items and other essentials. Numerous volunteers help serve those receiving the aid. Its volunteers were pleasantly surprised to find out about the new unit.
“It’s a good feeling being here to help the community; it’s what God wants us to do,” said Dan Smith of New Beginnings Christian Church, which runs the outreach center.
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