“This is the closest grocery store for miles,” said a young GRACE client shopping for her family at the GRACE Food Pantry yesterday. For the first time in more than two months, the Pantry welcomed clients inside to select groceries from its shelves.
Just ahead of the mandated distancing guidelines in March, the Food Pantry closed its self-select store and started giving out boxes of groceries as clients drove through the Pantry parking lot.
While special dietary needs were addressed, and infant supplies, pet food, hygiene items, and cleaning products were provided on request, the grocery boxes were nearly all the same and contained about a week’s worth of food.
Clients were no longer able to shop for specific items or brands, or the types of food preferred by taste, culture, or cooking abilities. In addition, clients were unable to practice budgeting, menu planning, nutritional and dietary preparation, and other life skills gained through GRACE programs.
“It’s great to see our clients back in the store,” said Keith Hills, GRACE Food Pantry Manager. “Serving them in the parking lot is okay–people get to eat. But now we get to catch-up with them, and see how they and their families have been doing through all this.”
Suddenly, the Food Pantry has jumped back to life, said Keith. The summertime GRACE Grocery Giveaway and Feed Our Kids activities are joined by regular store services and the monthly Commodities deliveries to senior clients.
“The children are playing out front every lunch hour,” said Keith of the Feed Our Kids site that opens every weekday to feed children from the neighborhood. “And we are taking trucks out to the GRACE Grocery Giveaway every Thursday.”
Distancing and protective procedures are in place at the Food Pantry to make sure all volunteers, clients, and staff are safe from COVID-19 exposure. Volunteer time slots have been established to ensure compliance with capacity limits and spacing needs.
Click GRACE Pantry Volunteer Sign Up for the updated COVID Volunteer Policy and available volunteer times.