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Area food pantries see uptick in usage

by | Jan 4, 2023 | Latest

Increases to housing, food and energy costs led to more visitors at several local food pantries throughout 2022.

Karen Ellis, executive director of Amazing Grace Food Pantry said the usual annual increase in individuals coming through their doors, 30%, was surpassed this year.

This year’s increase was 46%, said Ellis, but the pantry was still able to fulfill the needs of those coming through its doors. Pounds of food, the number of meals delivered and the number of visits increased 62% each. 

Ellis said it is important to note that while each unique visitor is counted one time but that many individuals come multiple times in a month. In 2022, there were 26,010 visits compared to 16,045 last year.

“We’re thankful that the food is still very much available and that volunteers are still able to participate in serving others,” Ellis said.

She continued that the food pantry is happy to continue delivering assistance to those it serves who are often on a fixed income. Volunteers and a refined process have also helped the pantry continue to meet needs in the community.

“The increased demand has been challenging but so far, manageable, thanks to our many dedicated volunteers,” Ellis said. “Our process is precise so that we can make the most of our small pantry space to serve so many.”

Amazing Grace also implemented a new barcode system that allows visitors to have their card scanned when they enter the pantry.

“When each client arrives, their card is scanned and immediately goes to the staging area for their custom made boxes of food,” Ellis said. “This speeds up the flow and with this ‘No Touch’ system, it helps prevent the spread of germs.’”

With the increasing traffic through its doors, there has been limited parking outside of Amazing Grace’s building, which impacts its ability to serve individuals. Ellis said the nonprofit has obtained a quote to improve the parking area for $60,000.

In 2023, the pantry plans to continue progressing on the necessary parking lot improvements, purchasing another box truck and expanding existing walk-in refrigerator and freezer space used to store fresh produce and meat, said Ellis.

Wylie Christian Care Center Executive Director Mary Warkentine said her pantry served nearly 300 more families this year compared to 2021. The nonprofit assisted 902 families in 2022, compared to 631 families in 2021, which Warkentine said represents 3,350 individuals.

Monthly, Wylie Christian Care Center serves around 250 families, she added. Most of the increased usage this year was attributed to higher costs of living, similar to clients of other pantries.

For the full story, see the Jan. 4 issue of The Wylie News.

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