The Jacksonville Salvation Army has received two awards for their new client choice food pantry.
Captain Chris Clarke says that the Jacksonville Salvation Army has been working with the University of Illinois Extension Office to help obtain a complete shopping experience for the clients of the food pantry: “People can go through with a shopping cart and shop aisles full of food. We have glass-door refrigerators and freezers for meat and dairy items. We always have produce and bakery items, as well. We encourage people to choose healthy items as often as they can. We also want to have an assortment of items so people can choose items that fit their dietary restrictions or just have a choice of foods that they like.”
Clarke says that their Client Choice pantry along with the work with the Extension Office has earned them Gold Level Status from the U of I Extension: “With the Gold Standard Award, there is a set of requirements to receive it. We are one of only a couple food pantries in the whole state to have received that status. It has to do with a lot of things. It has to do with client choice. It has to do with providing healthy options, and also having sections for people with various dietary restrictions, cultural food needs, and those type of things.”
The Salvation Army was also recently recognized with the Healthy Pantry Initiatives Award for the State of Illinois at the recent Hunger and Health Regional Conference held in Springfield on March 17th. This award recognizes one food pantry that demonstrates excellence in healthy pantry initiatives. Clarke says their pantry always carries fresh produce options and vegetables, canned or otherwise. He says encouraging clients to eat healthy goes beyond that: “We have signage throughout our food pantry telling people about the recommendations are for a healthy types of foods that you should eat. We are also doing food classes as well as other educational classes about living a healthy lifestyle and just ways to improve people’s overall lifestyle.”
The Salvation Army Food Pantry is open every Wednesday from 1pm-3pm. Additional evening hours are available the last Wednesday of each month from 5pm – 7pm. Anyone needing food can come. The Salvation Army’s Food Pantry expects to distribute 400,000 pounds of food and 15,000 personal care items to area residents this year. Area social workers and area emergency & first responders can access the food pantry at anytime for emergency food needs for their clients.
Clarke says the food pantry’s success has been due in part to volunteers and donations from the community as well as cooperation with Prairieland United Way, The Central Illinois Food Bank, Walmart, County Market and Aldi’s.
Those wishing to donate to or volunteer at the Salvation Army can call 217-245-7124 or visit them in person at 331 West Douglas Avenue in Jacksonville.