The oldest food pantry in Jacksonville just received a new makeover and a new operating style.
Jacksonville Salvation Army Captain Chris Clarke says clients can now serve themselves in a grocery-store style setting: “The Salvation Army has been helping people in need for 131 years, and we just opened our new pantry. We’ve been doing a food pantry for a long time, but we wanted to have a way for people to have more dignity when they come to our food pantry. Also, we want them to be able to pick out foods that go along with their dietary needs. When people come through our food pantry now, they will be able to get a grocery store-style cart. They will be able to walk down aisles of shelves filled with food and pick whatever items they need. They will also be able to receive lots of other things like meat. We always have meat, and most families walk away from our pantry with about 20 pounds of meat. We are usually giving them milk, cheese, butter, and all of those dairy items as well as an array of produce and bakery items.”
Clients can still get to the food pantry at 331 West Douglas Avenue. Clarke says those interested in donating to the food pantry can still do so at the same location: “We always accept donations of food and goods. People can drop them off at the Salvation Army. Of course, we would also accept financial donations, as well. People can mail those to us. We also could use volunteers. People who want to come in whenever they have free time throughout the week and want to stock and organize shelves are welcome to come see us.”
Clarke says the pantry is also looking to get sliding glass door refrigeration and freezer units for clients to shop from for their perishable food items.
The Salvation Army food pantry is funded through grants and donations from United Way, DOT Foods, area Churches, businesses and individuals. On average 10,000 lbs of donated foods are received monthly from area businesses, individuals, and through the Central Illinois Food Bank. The Salvation Army distributes foods allocated through two government programs. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF).
The Pantry, which is completely volunteer ran, is open Wednesdays from 1:15-3:15. Those who regularly work during those hours or who have an emergency food need can make an appointment by calling 217-245-7124.