By Laura Ingrim
Back on July 28, 2021, Wilkinson Center officially launched our newest program – the Pantry2Go food delivery truck! This 16-foot refrigerated truck serves as a mobile extension of our Food Pantry, delivering food where it is needed most. As we celebrate our Pantry2Go truck’s first birthday, it is incredible to see its impact so far.
Accessibility is a huge challenge when it comes to serving the community. Although Wilkinson Center’s Food Pantry is located on a bus line and in an underserved area, many potential clients simply cannot visit the Pantry because of scheduling conflicts or lack of transportation. The goal of the Pantry2Go program is to bring food directly into the community, reaching new clients who live in food deserts. A food desert is an area that has limited access to affordable and/or nutritious foods. By targeting these areas of Dallas County, Wilkinson Center provides meat, eggs, milk, produce, fresh bread, and nonperishable food staples to families, all free of charge.
Having a refrigerated truck has long been a dream for Wilkinson Center. With the generous financial support of the North Texas Food Bank, American Airlines, and Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, this dream came true in summer 2021. After a launch party and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 18th, the first Pantry2Go distribution was scheduled for late July at the Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Florence Middle School. The distribution day was sunny and hot, but the staff and volunteers did a phenomenal job handing out food boxes to 50 families in a drive-through distribution.
Over the last year, the Pantry2Go program has grown and expanded. We currently hold distributions 3 to 4 times per month, serving area schools and recreation centers. These events are drive-through distributions: clients line up in their cars and Wilkinson Center staff and volunteers load food boxes directly into their vehicles. Typically, the distributions are held in the late afternoon or early evening, when clients are coming home from work or picking kids up from school. If you are interested in volunteering for one of these distributions, you can sign up at https://bit.ly/ServePantry.
Because of the various COVID-19 lockdowns, it became apparent that we needed a safe way to deliver food to our senior clients who are at a greater health risk. The Pantry2Go truck is now also used on a weekly basis to deliver food right to our clients’ doors, along with one large distribution event each month at a senior apartment community.
The Pantry2Go program aims to deliver 100,000 meals each year as part of Wilkinson Center’s goal of alleviating hunger. With the support of great community partners, energetic volunteers, and generous donors, this first year has been a true success in feeding the community. Happy birthday, Pantry2Go truck!