Responding to Community Needs
Target Hunger’s pantry program operates at five locations including churches and multi-service centers across the nine zip-codes we serve. As a United Way agency, Target Hunger distributed more than 2 million meals to nearly 31,000individuals in 2020. We are grateful to these partners for allowing us the space to serve the community – without them it would be difficult to assist as many as we do. The central locations of these sites have allowed us to become a reliable resource in the communities that need it most.
However, we recognize that there are some neighborhoods where we don’t have brick-and-mortar sites that need those resources too and that families need these locations to be convenient to where they live or work. The solution was to add a pantry on wheels or a Mobile Food Pantry to our fleet!
Through a $426,000 grant from the Qatar Harvey Fund, we added the Mobile Food Pantry to our fleet in addition to making major enhancements to our warehouse including building a repackage room, and adding a walk-in refrigerator, walk-in freezer, and generator.
The Mobile Food Pantry, a climate-controlled walk-though grocery store, will allow Target Hunger to expand its service and deliver food closer to where clients reside. Families located in the Fifth Ward and the northeast/east neighborhoods of East Houston, Magnolia Park, and Pleasantville will be able to shop for their groceries and go home with about 40 pounds of fresh food and non-perishables.
Wheels on the Road
Due to the pandemic, the implementation of this new resource had been delayed for months. Finally, on Wednesday, August 25th, we hosted the official Ribbon Cutting ceremony. We held the event at the Magnolia Multi-Service Center in the heart of the Greater East End neighborhood.
Our Board Members and staff excitedly welcomed guests, including Fatema Al-Baker, the Director of Public Diplomacy Outreach for the Embassy of the State of Qatar and Chris Bugbee, President & CEO of OneStar. Guests had the opportunity to take a tour of the Mobile Pantry and have the shopping experience that our clients will enjoy. We then heard from Board Member Sam Louis, Mr. Bugbee, Ms. Al-Baker, and our CEO Sandra Wicoff.
OneStar President & CEO Chris Bugbee said: “The mobile pantry not only addresses the long-term and ongoing effects of Hurricane Harvey, but also builds the resilience of the Houston community to face the realities of 2021 and the challenges that lie ahead. We are proud to partner with Target Hunger and the Qatar Harvey Fund through our Rebuild Texas Fund on this innovative solution to food insecurity.”
Finally, the ribbon was cut, and our Mobile Pantry was ready for action. A few of Target Hunger’s current clients attended and had the first opportunity to shop the pantry, including Nancy. When asked about her experience, Nancy said simply, “It’s good to have, really really good.”
We are thrilled to finally have wheels on the road and to be able to serve the community with this new resource. Once in full rotation, the Mobile Food Pantry will provide groceries to 600 families a month. It is designed to be a Choice Pantry where shoppers can select from a range of products to meet their families dietary and cultural preferences. We hope that this pantry serves the community well and with dignity!