Client surveys recently conducted at the Downtown Food Pantry put some quantitative figures to what pantry volunteers have known for years: their efforts are making a difference.
“The food pantry has been a blessing for us. My husband lost his job and we were struggling. This helps so much to free up money to use for bills,” reported one client.
As it relates to food insecurity, which is the worry about access to enough healthy food for a household, 78.9% reported a decrease in that concern thanks to their involvement with the local organization.
“There’s concern among many households in Lamar County. We know it and we see it. Folks are doing without groceries sometimes, or are limiting their intake to make what’s in their kitchen last longer,” said Allan Hubbard, food pantry executive director.
Surveys provided in March by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) showed food insecurity in the Paris area prior to visiting the pantry was 89.5%. A little more than half, 55.2%, said they skipped meals due to food shortage in their home. A staggering 71.1% said they limited food intake.
Almost a quarter of the pantry’s volunteers are members of RSVP. Hubbard said the local contribution from RSVP volunteers to many non-profit agencies, plus Paris Regional Medical Center, is invaluable. The pantry serves an average of 24% of all Lamar County residents each year and is funded by local churches, individuals, corporate and foundation grants.
“For 11 years now, all we’ve wanted to do was stand in the gap for people who need food and make sure they have enough,” Hubbard said. “Our board and our volunteers have made a commitment to continue that indefinitely. These surveys show what we’re doing is helping.”
One client wrote in comments: “The people who work at the food pantry are always helpful and polite, always smiling and happy to help. They never make you feel bad for having to have assistance.”
Another client wrote: “The food pantry is a lifesaver for all of us who use it. The volunteers are just out-of-this-world wonderful. Paris is richly blessed to have them here.”
Anyone who lives in Lamar County can receive free groceries every other week. The amount received is based on household size. The pantry distributes food Tuesdays 1:30-4:30 p.m. and Thursdays 8:30-11:30 a.m. It is located at 124 W. Cherry St.