Grace Presbyterian building market-style food pantry

Tuscaloosans in need of a little extra help putting food on the table will soon have another avenue for assistance, as Grace Presbyterian Church is building the city’s first market-style food pantry.

What does that mean? Once completed, residents in need can visit Table of Grace and shop for groceries provided by the West Alabama Food Bank and other donations. That means residents seeking food can get the exact items want instead of making due with a random selection of goods they may or may not know how to cook.

The pantry is expected to open in early fall.

“At Table of Grace, we will still have the same foods that we have now, but clients will choose what they put in their bags,” said Food Pantry Director Jennifer Shepard in a statement. “We will be able to offer a greater variety to choose from and include items that address health or diet issues.”

At the moment, residents making use of Grace Presbyterian’s food pantry get a bag filled with a random assortment of items. Substitutions aren’t possible, meaning residents with dietary concerns like diabetes or high blood pressure often get food they can’t eat without potential health issues.

Table of Grace is also expanding the food ministry’s goal of providing more fresh produce by building an orchard and community garden, and starting up a community gleaning program.

Community gleaning means getting food from places that have an excess like farms, restaurants or stores and distributing it to those in need.

“We plan to be able to add seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to this selection from food we grow in a garden and from a network of growing and cleaning throughout the area,” said garden organizer Brooke Peterson. “We will need volunteers for food distribution on a weekly basis. We will need people to help stock and organize the food. We will need gardeners and community organizers.”

Currently, Grace Presbyterian’s food pantry serves 600 to 800 people each month. Residents who qualify for SNAP, TANF or SSI automatically qualify for the pantry and others may qualify if they meet eligibility requirements. The pantry offers emergency food bags for anyone who doesn’t meet those requirements.

If you’re interested in assisting the food pantry or donating, click right here to learn more.

Categories: Local News