Reinventing the Wheel: CAFB Unveils New Mobile Food Pantry

August 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today, we unveiled the second addition to our “Wheels of Sharing” Mobile Food Pantry fleet.

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This new 48-foot pantry will enable us to nourish 800 families, and provides them with essential staples, fruits and vegetables, and frozen foods. It more than quadruples the amount of people we can serve and is revolutionizing the way food banking is done.  Sherry LeBlanc, our programs director shares:

When I started working with the Mobile Food Pantry over two years ago, the biggest challenge was determining the best communities that would benefit from this service. As the program’s popularity and demand grew, I quickly discovered that each town came with its own set of challenges and opportunities to nourish the hungry.

Of every challenge, I and the team of drivers, SNAP outreach coordinators, and volunteers saw, I’ll never forget the first day we distributed in Lott, Texas. Lott is a small town with a population of 668 people. Driving down Highway 77, I received a call from their mayor. “Sherry”, she said, “I hope to God you brought A LOT of food.” I assured her that we would have enough food for everyone – this had never been an issue, even in towns much bigger than Lott. As we drove down the main street of the town, my jaw dropped. There, standing in 110 degree heat, lined-up next to the dilapidated buildings and waiting for food was a line of more than 400 families. I quickly learned that they had come not only from Lott, but from the surrounding cities: Rosebud, Marlin, Bruceville-Eddy and more. They were all in need of immediate food assistance and what we had on the truck could drastically change their day. Unfortunately, we only had enough food for 250 families.

Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, July 2009

Families stand in line at a Wheels of Sharing Mobile Food Pantry distribution

This is when I realized we had a much bigger challenge.  It’s also when we first realized we’d need a bigger truck.

Over and over again, at distributions in east Austin, Rockdale, San Saba and others, our truck couldn’t hold enough food to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

We definitely needed a bigger truck.

The fact that we have the biggest mobile food pantry in the Feeding America network, the best system for running a mobile food pantry program, and the first food bank to win three awards for operations excellence including the Feeding America Legendary Customer Service award are important.

Most important, we don’t have to worry about quality versus quantity; each family will receive an ample amount of food to support their immediate needs.

This new truck has been on the road, serving the community for about a month. Every week, I hear the same thing from our clients – that the truck is a blessing, and the food is what they want to buy at the grocery store but can’t afford.   I can’t begin to express how much it means not only to me and the Food Bank team, but the thousands of people we serve each month, knowing that from here on out we won’t have to turn anyone away for lack of food.

Click here to learn more about the “Wheels of Sharing” Mobile Food Pantries.

A special thank you goes to: RGK Foundation, Adele Garber Family Foundation, Wal-Mart Foundation and anonymous sponsors.

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