Food Pantry Struggles For New Home

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COLUMBIA - Food pantries across the nation work with food banks to distribute nutritious food to those less fortunate. Columbia resident Sophia Smith had a dream to lend a helping hand. That dream was cut short this past October.

Smith is the creator of Sophia's Helping Hand Food Pantry. "That's why I named it Sophia's Helping Hand, because I love to help," Smith said.  Her inspiration is her mother, Francis Mae Smith. Sophia's 75-year-old mother lives with her to ensure she is taken care of.

"She was an inspiration to my life and she always helped people in the neighborhood and one thing about her was that she loved and didn't judge," Smith said.

She feels it is Gods calling to her to give back to the community and be as caring as she remembers her mother was. Sophia's pantry became homeless when the owner sold the building in October.

"This has been such a great loss to a lot of the people who used our services and it's been a huge hurt on us to not be able to serve," Smith said.

The pantry has been partnered with the Food Bank of Central Missouri since 2010. The Food Bank of Central Missouri spokeswoman Bobbie Kincade said it is up to the pantry to find a new location.

"It is up to the organization, that is their responsibility to get the pantry facility and then our agency relations person would go to the pantry to make certain it complies with our requirements," Kincade said.

Currently, Smith is taking collections but the donations have greatly decreased because they have no set home base. "By getting a space to operate we could start picking up our supplies again because right now we cannot pick up any deliveries from the Central Missouri Food Bank without a proper place to put them," Smith said.

Smith says she wishes it would all work out so she can keep doing what she loves, helping those who aren't as well off as she. She added that she wants this to be a legacy for her children and grandchildren for years to come. "It is important for them to realize what they have, I always taught them to never laugh at or diminish those who have less then you," Smith said.

Sophia's Helping Hands is often collecting outside of Sam's Club, which is where KOMU 8 News met Smith, and where locals can donate to her.