Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Christmas is Year Round at Oxford Food Pantry

The Oxford Pantry has been helping local residents who need it with food items for over 30 years. From fresh meats to canned soups and vegetables; the amount and contents of grocery bags given to clients over the decades has been exceeded only by the sincerity of the volunteers who work there.
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The Food Pantry, located next to the Oxford Police Department on Molly Barr Road, is in need of donations this season.

Church members from different denominations all over Oxford and Lafayette County and others, who have volunteered over the years, offer their time and labor to The Pantry for absolutely no compensation, except the satisfaction of knowing they’re helping people who need it. And to them, that’s enough.
Julien Tatum is the director of The Pantry and said that without the efforts of the different churches and their members, the food bank would not be possible.
“Members from different churches all over Oxford work at The Pantry every month,” Tatum said. “Without our volunteers we couldn’t open. This month, December, it’s North Oxford Baptist Church. We’re opened on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and we use Tuesday’s as our stocking day, putting out food items for our clients.”
Tatum said that The Pantry serves sometimes as many as 500 clients a month, especially during the holidays.
IMG_8562“Of course, around Thanksgiving and Christmas people who need help supplementing or providing their food is more prevalent,” he said. “But we serve people 12 months out of the year, not just at the holidays.”
Tatum said the food bank had not always been as large as it is today.
“When The Pantry first started out it was in a little Scout hut over on S. 5th Street. And it only had one room. But over the years it grew so much that we moved here, on Molly Barr, about 14 years ago.”
With Christmas fast approaching, Tatum said for anyone wanting to donate food items, turkeys and a variety of canned goods would be greatly appreciated.
“We bought some turkeys,” he said, “but we weren’t able to buy enough for everybody. It’s kind of first-come, first-served. And canned goods are always welcomed. We look at protein content too. Any canned meats, such as chicken, beef stew, potted meats, Vienna sausages; anything like that. And we have to consider shelf life, so canned foods are always a blessing. For our elderly clients, peanut butter is good too, as it’s high in protein and it’s something that we can’t keep on the shelves. Canned fruits and vegetables are great too.”
IMG_8567Tatum said there is a screening process for potential clients and there are people at The Pantry to help with the forms.
“We use Federal or USDA income guide sheets to determine who qualifies,” he said. “There are guidelines for single people and families. We just encourage people in need to come by and apply.”
Tatum said that along with food donations from the community and local stores, such as Kroger and Walmart, The Pantry purchases items from the Mid-South Food Bank and the Mississippi Food Network when they can.
“We also purchase items from Larson’s Cash Saver at a discount to help stock our shelves,” he said. “But it’s our community that’s vital to The Pantry’s continued success. People’s food items and monetary donations are so welcomed and appreciated.”
IMG_8565The Pantry survives only on private donations of food items and money and receives no other funding, so Tatum encourages the Oxford and Lafayette County communities to get as involved as they can.
“Keep us in your hearts,” Tatum said, “and help us take care of those in need if you can.”
The Pantry’s phone number is (662) 832-8001. If you’d like to donate food items, please bring them to 713 Molly Barr Rd. Tuesday through Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m.
Monetary donations may be sent to:
The Pantry
P.O. Box 588
Oxford, Miss. 38655
Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at angela.rogalski@hottytoddy.com.

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