-START A MOBILE FOOD PANTRY-

Two women smile behind a display of boxed and canned goods

Volunteers are integral to the mobile food pantry. They help set up the tables, sort donated goods, and hold cooking demos. Most importantly, they make pantry clients feel welcomed and comfortable as they go through the line.

Hunger Coalition of Transylvania County - Rosman, NC

Transylvania County

Every Thursday evening, volunteers with the Hunger Coalition of Transylvania County (HCTC) arrange a row of tables outside of Rosman Elementary School. They unload their truck full of donated food and place flowers along the tables. They station themselves behind the tables to greet people and help them pick out their food. And the end of the line they set up a cooking demo, where they show clients how to prepare a simple, nutritious recipe with the foods they receive.

HCTC decided to start this mobile food pantry after they realized there was a significant gap in the food available to people of western Transylvania County. Most people live in a rural food desert, meaning they have to travel more than 10 miles to the nearest grocery store. Many don’t have access to transportation, so they are unable to drive even 10 miles to get food. Through a survey of local food pantries, HCTC learned that although there are food pantries throughout the county, many are only open once a month. At the same time, one food pantry in the area had more produce than they could give away.

In a typical week, HCTC receives food from Manna Foodbank, Anchor Baptist (another food pantry in the area), and local gardens. The donations they typically receive include:

  • Canned goods

  • Dried goods, such as crackers, rice, and pasta

  • Produce

  • Cat and dog food

  • Food storage containers

  • Cooking Equipment

  • Reusable Grocery Bags

The mobile food pantry helps Transylvania County residents, especially those with limited transportation, have better access to healthy foods, along with the knowledge and equipment needed to prepare them.

Here are the steps HCTC took to start their mobile food pantry:

  • Find a Location: HCTC began by surveying existing food pantries to find out where the greatest need was in their community. Once they identified the general area, they looked for places that would donate outdoor space. They decided on Rosman Elementary School because it was in a central location, and it had a covered walkway that could protect the food and people from bad weather.

  • Recruit Volunteers: HCTC held a community-wide volunteer session where they recruited and trained volunteers in one day. They publicized the training through local banks, churches, the Rotary Club, and word of mouth.

  • Spread the Word: HCTC promoted the pantry through flyers, Facebook, their list-serv, word of mouth, and school announcements. They also  worked with the school to get the word out to families who were already participating in the school’s Backpack Program.

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