Salvation Army Working to Expand Food Pantry Ahead of Move to Former Mac Campus

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 13, 2023 at 2:01pm

A pair of area service groups are helping the Jacksonville Salvation Army with its mission of providing food for the needy ahead of its big move.

Salvation Army Captain Chris Clarke says they are extremely grateful to the Rotary Club of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Children’s Foundation who have donated funds toward the purchase of some much-needed equipment for the Salvation Army’s Client Choice Food Pantry.

In preparation of the Salvation Army moving into our new at the former Gamble Student Center on the MacMurray campus, we’re going to have a much larger food pantry, and we were able to receive donations to purchase a second and third double glass door freezer, which our clients are able to shop from for the items that they need at our Client’s Choice Food Pantry.”

The 45-square-foot freezers currently cost approximately $5,000.00 each. Clarke says the Salvation Army had to pay a small amount to help secure the units, but the bulk of the funding came from the two groups.

Clark says the Client Choice Food Pantry served a record number of people in the month of February distributing more than 68,000 pounds of food. He says the plans to move into a larger facility this year is timely because they expect the need for critical outreach to increase.

We’re extremely busy, the month of February our numbers skyrocketed. We had fifteen hundred people who came through the food pantry we served, and we expect those numbers to continue especially in March now that the SNAP benefits are being cut back to per-pandemic levels.”

The Salvation Army has signed a purchase contract and later this year will be moving into the former MacMurray College Gamble Campus Center, located at 621 E. Beecher Street.

Clarke says the larger space will allow for the addition of new programs including an art center, a maker space, a recreation/teen center, and new programs for children seniors, and families. He says they will close on the purchase on March 31st, however, there are some challenges before the move can be made.

We’ve got to get the power back on and there are some challenges with parts that are needed to do that. We have a [electrical] cabinet that needs to be ordered and that will take three to six months, unfortunately. We are hopeful that it will be more on the three-month side to get the electricity back on and we will start moving in there.

But even at the end of the month once we get those keys there are things we can do with the warmer weather coming. We’re hoping to get in there and start cleaning up, it’s been sitting vacant for a while, and things we need to do so we can prepare to move in.”

The electrical panel cabinet issue is much like those that Jacksonville School District 117 has faced in the Washington and Eisenhower Elementary School renovation projects as supply chain issues continue to hamper the construction industry.

Clarke says the electricians they are working with say the specialized cabinets have been on a six-month backlog for some time now, however, as of late that turnaround time has been cut down to three months.

The Client Choice food Pantry is currently available in the Salvation Army’s facility at 331 West Douglas Avenue, Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 11:00 am. And 1:00 to 3:00 pm. The food pantry does not require identification in order to receive food.

Any questions about the service may be directed to The Salvation Army at 217-245-7124. You can also find information on the Client Choice Food Pantry at the Jacksonville Salvation Army on YouTube.