Foodbank to deploy more mobile pantries after Kroger closes Springfield store

Second Harvest Food Bank will deploy eight mobile pantries to the south side of Springfield the day after Kroger on South Limestone closes its doors for good, the food bank’s director says.

Tyra Jackson, executive director of the food bank, announced the additional mobile pantries at a community forum Tuesday night.

“We have over 22,000 people in our area alone that do not know where their next meal will come from. So when we look at that, we know the impact that the Kroger store leaving will have,” Jackson said. “We have an immediate plan, as Second Harvest Food Bank. Those who know us know that we have mobile pantries and those are our first response.”

The eight mobile pantries will be disbursed throughout the south side of Springfield beginning on March 5, Jackson said. Kroger announced in January that the South Limestone Kroger will close on March 4.

The food bank’s mobile pantry directly serves clients in rural or outlying areas where transportation may be an issue, according to their website. The pantries distribute nutritious perishable and non-perishable food for free.

Read more on Kroger’s closure: ‘This impact will be deeply felt’: Groups say Kroger closure to hurt south Springfield

A mobile pantry will also be stationed in the parking lot of what is now Kroger at 1822 S. Limestone St., every Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon.

In addition, Jackson said the food bank is also partnering with the Springfield City School District to use their parking lots for even more mobile pantries. Those pantries will be stationed in different SCSD parking lots on Tuesday’s from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

“Typically our mobiles run for about an hour, but we understand that we will have more people coming through so we wanted additional hours to let people come through,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the food bank understands that the pantries will not be the answer for all of the south side’s residents.

“We want to at least provide some solutions for some and this is a start. We are open and willing to listen to people, to have suggestions as to other things we can do,” Jackson said.

Jackson made the announcement to a standing-room-only crowd packed into the auditorium at the Dome on Tuesday night. The crowd had gathered to hear Springfield city leaders share details about an agreement they had reached with Kroger executives.

The city announced earlier Tuesday it had reached a deal with the grocery chain that would include Kroger turning the building over to the city. Kroger would also donate money to the city and other organizations to help provide transportation for residents to other grocery stores.

Read more on Kroger’s closure: Springfield Foundation sets up fund in wake of Kroger closure

“The south side has suffered enough. We have seen this coming for a while. We just want to know that things are going to be different now,” lifelong resident of the south side Dale Henry said.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said the deal with Kroger will help the city serve residents who will be four miles away from the nearest grocery when the store closes.

“We knew we had to work with Kroger to do right by Springfield and do right by the community,” Heck said.

Under the deal, Kroger will; donate the building at 1822 s. Limestone St., and the land, including non-proprietary contents of the facility without restriction on future use, contribute $31,500 to support shuttle services from South Springfield to other community grocery stores and contribute a minimum of $19,500 to Second Harvest to support additional food bank services.

Heck took questions from the residents at the forum for more than an hour, with residents most curious about who will formally own the grocery store and what is next for the south side community.

“We are just in the beginning stages of these conversations,” Heck said. “We don’t have all the answers right now.”

8: Additional mobile pantries that will be stationed on the south side of Springfield following Kroger’s closure.

$19,500: Minimum amount the Second Harvest Food Bank will receive from Kroger under a new deal reached with the City of Springfield.

14: Days until Kroger on South Limestone will close.

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