Bread for Life Food Pantry
Feature written in July, 2019
FHLB Des Moines Member: Peoples Bank and Trust Company
Bread for Life Food Pantry (BFL) in Troy, Missouri has served all of Lincoln County, MO since it was opened in 2003 as a ministry of the Greater Tory Ministerial Alliance. The Alliance noted there was no central referral place for people coming to community members in need to help put food on the table.
When BFL opened, an average of 12 families received food each week, and this number has raised to 95 families per week as of 2018. In 2018 alone, 5,327 families – 19,166 individuals – were served. Thirty-five percent of those individuals are children 18 or younger.
Many clients are permanently disabled, in poor health, suffering from long-term mental issues and are unable to work in a profitable job. Many elderlies are chronically ill, and, often, young families have a parent suffering from cancer or terminal illness.
BFL Pantry shares surplus food with other county pantries and has a network of contacts to assure perishable food gets to pantries in time for distribution. This connection has helped many pantries benefit from the donations received by BFL.
The nine-member Board of Directors oversees nearly 100 volunteers and two co-directors handle daily operations. Volunteers assure smooth operation and a fully stocked facility, as well as food distribution regulations to keep everything safe. They also drive to local grocers to pick up donations through the national Feed America Program.
A local CPA works with the treasurer to provide a monthly account report, year-end report and files the required IRS-990 each March. Janitorial and monthly pest control is donated, and two local employers – Toyota-Bodine and Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt send 10 employees for a week each year to help with building maintenance and outdoor projects to keep the facility in shape.
Twenty-five individuals pack boxes, fill orders, register clients, gather required signatures and carry boxes to clients’ vehicles each Wednesday.
BFL has no paid staff and does not own any vehicles. Volunteers use their own vehicles to get the job done.
Assuring the availability of nutritious food in the community is an on-going project, and changes and additions are made as needed to serve the increasing number of clients in need. In addition to weekly food distribution, BFl also provides donations of food to the Lincoln County R-III School District Buddy Bags Program.
Three or more boxes of food items are delivered to the school to be sent home in Buddy Bags with students in need. The program targets the association between poor nutrition and learning difficulties in school by assuring adequate food for children to take home on the weekends.
In 2013, BLF partnered with the local Senior Center Nutrition Site to begin a Senior Box Program. The program was started when 30 individuals were identified that needed additional food but were unable or unwilling to come to the Pantry. Thirty boxes are packed monthly with nutritious items and delivered to the drivers who deliver the seniors their daily meals. The program has now grown to 40 individuals in their home and reinforces dignity of seniors living alone. This can delay premature placement in care facilities, and the food received allows that saved money to be used for medication and other necessities.
A new program, Blessing Box began May 1, 2019. This is a permanent structure in a well-lit area near the Panty entrance and is accessible and unlocked 24 hours a day. It is stocked daily with non-perishable items, and there is no paperwork to sign. Panty staff, therefore, won’t know who uses or takes food from the box. These “tiny pantries” are seen in many towns across the country, or in private years or churches. If this proves successful, BFL hopes to implement more Blessing Boxes in the county.
BFL was originally located at a donated store front which they quickly outgrew. In 2011, BFL Board of Directors began a campaign, encouraged by Peoples Bank and Trust, and raised local funds to build a facility that would meet the organization’s needs. The 3,072 square-foot building was built on city property and is debt free.
Since 2003, Lincoln County’s population green from 39,223 to 52,566 (25%) over 16 years. BFL’s clientele grew by 87% during those years. The county has a poverty rate of 13.8%, and the unemployment rate is 3.2%. The county grows nearly 2% each year.
FHLB Des Moines member Peoples Bank and Trust in Troy, MO has supported BFL with cash donations, food drives held at the bank’s facility and volunteer efforts since 2003 with the expectation that donations be used locally.