Cole County mobile food pantry adopts contactless drive-thru
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri and the United Way of Central Missouri took its services on the road in 2017 when organizers recognized a need to meet people where they are in the community.
The mobile pantry has traveled across mid-Missouri, rain or shine, to help alleviate food insecurity. Since the pandemic began, the pantry has adopted a contactless drive thru system.
United Way of Central Missouri's Marketing and Events Director Amber Brondel said the pantry can serve up to 900 households in a day.
"We tried really hard to make sure we pinpoint locations in our community that were near pockets of poverty so that those with transportation barriers would still have access to food," Brondel said.
Brondel said the pantry has seen a significant increase of people coming to pick up food. She said the pantry does not keep records on the number of newcomers but wouldn't be surprised if there were more first-timers.
"COVID has impacted every single person in a unique way," Brondel said. "I would venture to say there are people who are receiving food for the first time along with other types of services."
Self Wolfmeyer, Communications and Marketing Director of the Food Bank, said the number of people served has increased over the past year.
"Even before the pandemic, we've been seeing more people are being served with our mobile pantries" Wolfmeyer said.
Linda Hile said she visits the mobile pantry about twice a month. She started using the mobile pantry's service pre-COVID but thinks its new contactless system is easier and faster.
"Lines have been about just as long before COVID," Hile said. "Since the virus, it seems like it's easier. They load it for you and it goes quicker."
The mobile pantry travels to six locations across mid-Missouri throughout September. Some locations have changed since the pandemic began because they were unable to accommodate a drive-thru model.