The volunteer efforts of Ford Motor employees and a generous donation from the company created the new food pantry at our Go-Getters Drop-in Center that opened in February (2011).
‘Every one of our consumers who used the pantry hugged me and had tears in their eyes, knowing that they would not be going hungry,” says Shirley Cockrell, who directs Go-Getters, which serves adults living with mental illness, many of whom are homeless or formerly homeless.
“Many of our consumers have less than a $100 a month to spend on food, and they start to run low after mid-month,” Shirley continues. “They need a way to supplement their food budget where there is no wait and no questions asked. The pantry provides a valuable service.”
Last December, two dozen Ford volunteers spent a day at Go-Getters, building the pantry, distributing holiday gift bags, and preparing lunch at the center. Ford also provided grants totaling almost $15,000, used primarily for materials to construct the pantry, food items to stock the pantry, and kitchen appliances.
With $2000 from the grant, plus another $400 from a private donor, Go-Getters purchased 3000 pounds of non-perishable food from Gleaners Food Bank.
Linda Wilson is a Go-Getters consumer who used the pantry in February. She received canned goods such as beef stew and spaghetti, boxes of macaroni and cheese, and other items.
“I try to stretch my food stamps as much as I can, but they just don’t last the whole month,” Linda says. “Having the pantry here gives me peace of mind that I can get good things to eat when I need them.”
Linda says that she will rely on the pantry every month, as long as it is stocked. Grace Cini says that she will use it on an emergency basis.
“The weather was bad in February and my household expenses were higher than usual,” Grace says. “I’m glad the pantry was there to fall back on.”
The Ford grant also helped Go-Getters upgrade its kitchen by purchasing a convection oven and an icemaker.
“The compassion and hard work of the Ford volunteers and the generous Ford gift has certainly enhanced the wellbeing of our Go-Getters’ consumers,” says Bob O’Brien, vice president for development at Southwest Solutions.
In addition to the Ford donation, funds raised at the Empty Bowls benefit last year were used to acquire a stove and a second convection oven, and to make desperately needed repairs to the kitchen.
Go-Getters prepares and then serves a hot, nutritious lunch to about 70 consumers on each of the four weekdays it is open.
“It’s like night and day, before and after the kitchen improvements,” Shirley says. “We are able to prepare better food and get it done in less time. Yesterday, we were able to make fish sticks for the first time for lunch because we finally had the oven capacity.”
Twenty consumers benefited from the pantry in February, and a few more than that in March. The number of pantry users is expected to grow steadily as consumers take advantage of its convenience and selection. Eventually, if the pantry is stocked well enough, it will be available to other low-income residents in the community.
If you would like to help keep the Go-Getters food pantry stocked, we encourage you to make a financial gift, since the funds can be used to purchase items from Gleaners at a significant discount. To make a donation online, click this link and then enter “Go-Getters pantry” in the Comments field. You may also contact Bob O’Brien at email@example.com or 313.297.1370.
To donate non-perishable food items, please contact Shirley Cockrell at 313.961.0677.