Sweet Springs food pantry serves a large rural area

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Sweet Springs Community Food Pantry, Inc. is located at 213 Main St. in Sweet Springs and serves a large rural area. (Contributed photo)

Editor's note: This is part of a series profiling United Way agencies.

For Sweet Springs Community Food Pantry, Inc., kindness goes for miles as over 20 volunteers work to feed the needy.

"We are just delighted we can help people," said Joyce Meyer, board member. "That's what we're there for is to give people food and help them through bad times."

The pantry serves the Sweet Springs, Concordia and Santa Fe consolidated school districts and all the rural areas in between.

It offers a wide variety of food -- most of which is donated from Central Missouri Food Bank in Columbia.

Another big portion of food comes from local food drives that churches, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and other organizations host.

Volunteers at Sweet Springs Community Food Pantry, Inc., fill carts with food for those in need. (Contributed photo)

In the past, the food pantry has been able to hand out hams from Tyson, produce and bakery goods from Walmart through the Feeding America program, ready-to-bake pizzas, cheese sauce, peanut butter and tuna, just to name a few.

Milk is an important staple to families and the food pantry also provides that to children 16 and under. Each family is limited to three galloons to spread the supply out to the needy families.

According to Meyer, the SSCFP served 112 families. It also provided 6,000 sacked-lunches to children as part of the Lunch for Kids summer program.

Monetary donations are a big part of the success for the food pantry. Running freezers and refrigerators to house all the perishable items gets costly.

"We have a lot of churches that support us monthly and have for years," Meyer said.

The biggest, and only fundraiser the pantry does is a poker run that takes place in October. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans typically match part of the funds raised during the event, "which is very generous," Meyer said.

Saline County United Way raises funds for the food pantry and those funds will be used for food purchases.

"Always, the money from United Way is to be used only for food items," Meyer said. "We will purchase the groceries up at The Market, which is the only grocery store in Sweet Springs."

The pantry is located at 213 Main St. in Sweet Springs and is open from 5-7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the second Friday of the month.

The volunteers are typically at the pantry three to four times a month to straighten up and prepare things for distribution.

The system the pantry uses allows families to get a number when they show up and they are helped in order. They are provided with a menu of items the pantry has to offer and can choose which items best suit the family's needs. The volunteers then package the items and bring it to the front for the family to take home.

The operation is "pretty extensive," according to Meyer. They have volunteers that unload trucks, puts items away, run computers, run carts for distribution, packages items into boxes and delivers them out front to families.

"The need just gets more all the time," Meyer said. "In Sweet Springs, there is no work. There just isn't. People truly need things."

SSCFP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in the state of Missouri. It is also sales tax exempt, so all donations are tax exempt as well.

Contact Rachel Knight at rknight@marshallnews.com

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