The Pantry is a unique food assistance organization that provides healthy, inexpensive food, simple instructions for its preparation, and the support of a true partnership between its volunteers and its guests. The idea came to life four years ago at one of Mid-America's new churches, Table of Grace, in Jefferson City. When they realized the scope of food insecurity in their local area, founders were motivated to do something about it. They also quickly identified a desire to provide more than pre-packaged, odd, or even expired food, and to eliminate the hassle and indignity that can sometimes meet visitors at a food pantry.
Inspired by the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, one of the founding members, Stephanie Scott-Huffman, explains her view of what happened that day: "It’s pretty amazing he was able to get a large crowd of people to give what they had and others to take what they needed and then in the end, there was plenty left." That's the true miracle.
Now in its third home and serving about 400 people each month, The Pantry continues to provide not just a random assortment of food items, but the ingredients and instructions for a planned menu. This model results in much healthier meals for the guests, a shopping list of items needed which takes the guesswork out for donors, and a collection of recipes and other tips that guests will be able to use to stretch their food budget. All of this takes place with no burden of guest qualifications, documentation, or proselytizing.
Though Table of Grace has closed, this ecumenical ministry and community effort continues with the simple desire of everyone involved to help their neighbors.
There's so much more to know about The Pantry!
- Visit their website.
- Read the whole, impassioned description of The Pantry's history by Stephanie Scott-Huffman.
- Check out their coverage in Her online magazine (complete with recipes!).
- Read the most recent article about their new location in the News Tribune.