OACAC helps fight food insecurity

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Debby Gemmecke, family resource specialist at the Barry County Neighborhood Center, refilled the give-and-take food pantry located at the ReStore. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

New pantry opens up located at ReStore

For families and communities dealing with food insecurity issues, finding help in their biggest time of need can make all the difference.

Recently, in a unique partnership between the Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation’s Barry County Neighborhood Center and the Habitat of Humanity of South Barry County ReStore, help can be found in the form of a give-and-take food pantry.

With a partnership between the Barry County Neighborhood Center—OACAC and the Habitat for Humanity of South Barry County, a new give-and-take food pantry is open to the public located at the ReStore. From left: David Hermann, Habitat for Humanity of South Barry County president; Tabetha Smith, Habitat for Humanity of South Barry County vice-president; Debby Gemmecke, family resource specialist at the Barry County Neighborhood Center; Elizabeth Plappert, CSBG project coordinator with OACAC; and Kathy Moore CSBG project coordinator with OACAC, remind the community to, “Take what you need and give what you can.” Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

Gail Reed, Barry County Neighborhood Center supervisor, said the process of getting the pantry in place began in October 2019.

“With a $4,000 grant from the Sedora Foundation, we were able to begin building and stocking the food pantry,” she said. “The $4,000 was divided between 10 counties, so we got $400.”

Additionally, an emergency shipment of food from the Convoy of Hope out of Springfield helped to stock the shelves in those 10 counties.

“There is no sign-up required for people to take items from the pantry,” Reed said. “We just ask that you take only what you need.”

As it is a give-and-take food pantry people are also encouraged to leave items if they are able to do so.

“We can accept non-perishable food items and basic hygiene items,” Reed said. “We were extremely impressed to see that people had already begun using the pantry as well as bringing items to replenish it even before we were able to get the word out or put up proper signage.”

The pantry was opened to the public on April 28.

“The ReStore is used so much that we figured it would be a perfect place to put the pantry,” Reed said. “We have partnered with Habitat over the years to figure out the best ways to serve our community.”

Reed said it makes a huge difference in the ability to help people when organizations utilize those types of partnerships.

“In addition to the pantry, OACAC is working on another project to serve the community,” she said. “Details will be released soon on that project.”

A few tips for people to remember when donating items to the food pantry:

• No perishable items

• Healthy food items are encouraged

• Protein food items are encouraged

• Large items, like a case of diapers, can be dropped off at the Neighborhood Center and they will be continuously distributed

• Meal items, like a can of pasta sauce and a package of noodles, can feed a family and are encouraged

Additionally, the library reached out to Reed with small items like coloring books that will be added.

“Also, there has been discussion with other counties that plan to add a basket under the box to place fresh produce over the summer,” Reed said. “Everyone always has extra items from their gardens, that could help as well.”

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