Some volunteers have been involved from the planning stages and are still involved in running the pantry each week. Some volunteers have joined along the way, bringing more (wo)man power and new skills. Some volunteers have moved away or passed away and are very much missed. Clients have found the food pantry and continue to visit whenever necessary. Some regular clients no longer need to shop the food pantry shelves and have become dedicated volunteers and supporters. There has been a change in Directors. There have been changes to the Board. Many, many process improvements have been implemented to make the client experience as smooth as possible and to allow the food pantry to serve more clients in each week's 2-hour service window. The food pantry has made alliances across the community to bring basic health screening, nutrition education, and other services to clients.
Technology has impacted many of the facets of the way the food pantry runs and how it interacts with the entire community. The US has gone through a major economic upheaval from which it is still trying to recover. Food preferences have shifted, and the price of nutritious food is still too high for too many people. The link between nutrition and health has been made clear. Safety nets within national social welfare programs continue to be used like Monopoly properties in the game of US politics, with the most vulnerable among us bearing most of the costs.
Through the sheer will and positive attitude of volunteers and support of the surrounding community, the food pantry served about 75,000 people in the past 10 years. That is the current population of Evanston or Kalamazoo, Michigan. The number of clients served in 2014 is almost exactly the same number of clients served in 2013.
It has been said that the only goal any non-profit organization should really have is to become unnecessary and to put itself out of business. For the food pantry, that would mean no client in our service area faces food insecurity. Do you think that New Hope Community Food Pantry will mark its 20th year in operation in 2024? If so, why? If not, what happens? What role do you see the food pantry playing in the community over the next 10 years?