Jacksonville Salvation Army Pantry in Need of Donations as Food Needs Continue to Rise Dramatically

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 18, 2023 at 10:48am

Shelves sit empty at the Client Choice Food Pantry as food insecurity rises in the Jacksonville area. Photo Credit: Jacksonville Salvation Army

An area food pantry is in need of assistance as the need for food assistance continues to grow.

The Jacksonville Salvation Army’s Client Choice Food Pantry’s shelves are looking more like Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard according to Salvation Army Captain Chris Clarke. He says the need in the Jacksonville and Morgan County area has grown exponentially in the last couple of years.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen an over seven hundred percent increase in the number of people coming to us for food. We have several food programs including our Client Choice Pantry, commodities, and various other programs. But even more so in these last few months, we’re seeing more new people than ever before.

In the past few months, we’ve been adding about one hundred new families and these are people who have never come through the doors of the Salvation Army for any need at all. And now they’re coming to us for food, with the rising cost of food in our area, people who are on tight budgets, especially seniors.”

Clarke says in fact about half of the people coming to the Salvation Army with food needs are seniors who are on fixed incomes and very tight budgets.

The Client Choice Food Pantry is still a relatively new program at the Jacksonville Salvation Army. Clarke says up until two years ago, they still had weekly food box distributions, but now clients can come in five days a week and select what they need instead of picking up a prepacked box.

Photo Credit: Jacksonville Salvation Army

He says the increasing need in the area means they are in desperate need of donations, especially for specific popular items. “We’ve been able to access donations from other areas. We’re driving as far as Peoria to pick up donations on a weekly basis just to try to cover that need. In fact, we gave out over eight hundred thousand pounds of food so far in 2023 and over forty-three thousand people have shopped in the food pantry. Obviously, that’s duplicating because people are able to come in multiple times throughout the year.

But as that need increases, so does the need for food. The food we are really struggling to keep in stock is like side dish items that people can have with their meals. The canned goods, the box mashed potatoes, the pasta. Those types of things are what is extremely low now in our food pantry.”

Clarke says they also work with a number of Central Illinois food banks and are able to purchase food for sometimes as little as 19 cents per pound, so monetary donations can go a long way toward helping those with food instability in the area.

The Jacksonville Salvation Army’s Client Choice Food Pantry can still be found inside the citadel located at 331 West Douglas Avenue. Clarke says supply chain issues combined with the holiday seasonal needs means they will have to wait until after the first of the year before moving to the new location on the former MacMurray College campus.

To make a donation or to find out more information on the Client Choice Food Pantry, call the Jacksonville Salvation Army at 217-245-7124, or stop into the citadel on West Douglas Avenue.