COLUMBIA – One local food pantry that has been in the community for a long time wants to serve more people. 

The Russell Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church has been giving out food and resources to community members in need for 20 years. But preacher Tylisha Dade said she wants more people to benefit from what they have to offer.

“I would love to see more community members come out,” Dade said. “We would love to just be able to keep servicing 100 to 200 people every time we open to make sure that our community is not going without food.”

The food pantry is open on the second and fourth Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s open to all residents in Boone County. Despite operating on this schedule during the pandemic, Dade said she was grateful to meet the increased need in the community.

“When the pandemic started, we went from servicing about probably 70, maybe 80 people to anywhere from 100 to 190 families a week,” Dade said.

She also said those involved with the food pantry took charge of gathering donations of hand sanitizer, masks and toilet paper to hand out to the community when there was a national shortage of those items last year. 

“All the things that we were going through, we managed to somehow be blessed to be able to still provide to our community,” Dade said. 

She also mentioned that the food pantry used to be held inside the church.

“People could come in and pick what they wanted, they had a number of items they could choose from,” Dade said. “But during the pandemic, we had to figure out a way to keep the pantry open.”

The bi-monthly event was changed to a drive thru pickup when the pandemic began. Dade explained how volunteers meet on the Friday before the event to organize the food and pack it in bags to prepare it for Saturday.

“We take the individuals’ names and how many in their household, then we load them and they keep moving,” Dade said. “Everybody is able to get what they need, and everybody stays safe.”

The food pantry receives donations from the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, other local churches and grocery stores. Dade said they pull from a wide range of sources.

“We get donations from all over," she said. "And we get random people who want to just say, ‘Hey I see or hear about you guys doing this, how can I help?’”

 

The volunteers who help organize the food pantry come from across the community. They include members of Russell Chapel, members of other local churches and people from the community who are looking to help out.

Many volunteers have joined the team throughout the past year, and Dade said she wouldn’t trade them for the world.

“We have grown to be a big happy family,” she said. 

Russell Chapel mainly advertises for the food pantry on their Facebook page and word of mouth. Dade said she wants to look into other ways to spread the word even more.

“We love any way we can get the word out,” she said. “We just want everyone to come out.”

Dade said her job is to be there for the community in any capacity through providing service. She said she’s grateful to be a part of the impact and wishes to help more people receive resources to better their lives. 

“Several years ago my son named us the blessing on Ash Street,” Dade said. “I’m truly grateful, I think we are a blessing on Ash Street.”