Food bank in Jefferson City

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Pantry is offering people a chance to donate food and help the community on Friday. The food bank is holding a food drive at Community Christian Church from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Pantry is an independent food bank, so it doesn't receive large grants from the state. As a result, the food bank has less red tape than others.

According to The Pantry's director, larger food banks need proof of where their food is going, so that's why families need to bring in paperwork to prove they are eligible to receive donations.

At The Pantry, no documents or qualifications are needed in order to get food. Volunteers only ask how many people are in your household. 

"We've had a lot of people who've come with a stack of papers in hand, and you see them visibly relieved when we say 'no, we're here to help you,'" director of The Pantry Kolbi Ward said. "We very much want to give folks bootstraps with which to pull themselves up."

Another thing that makes this food bank unique is it lets families choose which meals they take home. The Pantry provides the fresh ingredients and recipes needed to cook meals like chicken pot pie, white bean chili and curry chicken with veggies. Other food banks often give households a box with random food in it.

"Every time you leave here you have everything you need to actually make meals, not just hope for the best with what random foods you might get," Ward said. 

The food bank has a variety of donors, including local groups and corporate sponsors. Ward said individual donations of money and food help keep the operation going too. The bank opened about three and a half years ago, and has grown to the point where it expects 100 families for each drive it hosts.  

At the drive, families will receive enough food for three days worth of meals. 

One volunteer from Lincoln University's nursing program said other food banks should adopt The Pantry's style.

"When families who struggle to eat well get structure like this, it's a huge help," Terica Kelly said. "Good nutrition is a building block for good health."

The address for Community Christian Church is 409 Ellis Boulevard.