The Local Good Pantry: Nourishing Communities, Creating Hope
In the heart of North Texas, Chase Oaks Church has initiated a powerful movement to combat hunger and offer hope through the Local Good Pantry. This community-driven project stands as a beacon of compassion, aiming to address the significant issue of food insecurity in the region.
The Scope of Food Insecurity
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a person is food insecure when they lack regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development as well as an active and healthy life. The North Texas Food Bank estimates that one in eight individuals—or approximately 640,000 people—face hunger in North Texas. This staggering statistic places the region as the fourth highest in terms of food insecurity within Feeding America's service area across the nation. “People just don't have access to food and some of that is healthy food, and some of it is just food in general,” Local Good Pantry Director, Tracy Parlin, says.
The Local Good Pantry
The Local Good Pantry began when another pantry that was doing good work in Richardson, Texas found itself unable to continue. City officials approached Chase Oaks about the ongoing need for food assistance; after that pantry closed, the church launched the Local Good Pantry.
The Pantry now serves approximately 4,000 individuals every month. It serves as an emergency pantry, recognizing that hunger knows no boundaries and that solidarity is essential in creating a stronger, more resilient community. Everyone who comes with a need is served, and the only two qualifications are an ID and an address.
The impact of the Local Good Pantry extends beyond Chase Oaks Church's immediate vicinity. Serving neighbors from diverse backgrounds and counties across the surrounding areas, the pantry embraces inclusivity. “There’s an importance to food insecurity and understanding the importance of the value of the food,” Parlin said. The pantry prioritizes accessibility and assistance to ensure that individuals in need can access their services.
With a commitment to dignified assistance, the Local Good Pantry has become a lifeline for thousands, providing not just sustenance but also a sense of community and optimism. In just a short period, the impact has been tremendous, with over 9,000 people fed and an astonishing 120,000 pounds of food distributed. “We're a pantry that we don't turn people down,” Parlin shares.
Central to the success of the Local Good Pantry is its strategic partnership with the North Texas Food Bank and local grocery stores. This collaboration allows the pantry to receive over 60,000 pounds of fresh foods and meat monthly, ensuring a diverse range of nutritious options for those in need. “We do have access to all of the fresh things that we’re able to give families," Parlin said. “It’s not just what you kind of consider the old school food pantries where you get a lot of bread and you get a lot of sweets, and all those things.” This partnership ensures access to fresh and diverse food options, surprising some visitors with the quality of the produce received.
The pantry focuses on providing a variety of fresh foods, thanks to its collaboration with North Texas Food Bank and its network of partner agencies. “Sam's and Costco are two of the biggest ones,” Parlin said. The dedication of grocery partners plays a pivotal role in the pantry's ability to meet the demand and address the nutritional requirements.
Individuals seeking food assistance can utilize various resources. Sometimes it’s just one Google search away. “You can find different access, different pantries in your area,” Parlin said. “For [The Local Good Pantry], they just have to show up.” Additionally, people can use the number 211 to get connected to social services like the SNAP program. The SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps) offers temporary financial benefits, even for those who may think they earn too much but are facing a crisis such as job loss or family emergencies. The Local Good Pantry also provides information on alternative pantries, guiding individuals to additional resources.
The Future of the Local Good Pantry
At the heart of the Local Good Pantry is a robust volunteer program that empowers individuals to actively contribute to the cause. There are various ways people can engage with the pantry, ranging from substitute truck drivers and grocery pick-up personnel to roles in building boxes, distribution lines, intake, walk-up assistance, data entry, and participation in "Do Good'' projects around the pantry. This multifaceted approach not only ensures the efficient functioning of the pantry but also fosters a sense of shared responsibility among volunteers.
The Local Good Pantry stands as a testament to the transformative power of community-driven initiatives. Through the collective efforts of Chase Oaks Church, volunteers, and dedicated partners, the pantry has become a source of hope and nourishment for thousands facing food insecurity in North Texas. As the Local Good Pantry continues to grow and evolve, it serves as a shining example of how a compassionate community can make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.
Join us for the Pantry's Grand Opening on Saturday, January 27. Find more information and sign up for future volunteer opportunities, here.