Despite the early morning’s bright sunshine and toasty heat on Friday, June 18, the debut of Wilkinson Center‘s Pantry2Go at the organization’s East Dallas food pantry filled the tents with folks from the North Texas Food Bank (President/CEO Trisha Cunningham, Rose Shippee and David Swain), Wilkinson Center board members (Board President Elizabeth Willis, Chris Gilker, Dawn Cordero, Katie Skipworth and Cheryl Eskridge), American Airlines Community Relations/Giving Manager Katy Phillips, Herbalist Nutrition Foundation’s Mary Holloway and City Councilman Adam Bazaldua. Thanks to the newly launched mobile food program, Wilkinson Center will be able to provide food for those in need with limited access. Here’s a report from the field:
Wilkinson Center launched its new Pantry2Go mobile food program at a special celebration on Friday, June 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at its East Dallas food pantry.
Sponsors, board members, supporters, and Wilkinson Center leadership and staff arrived and mingled while enjoying a first-look at the new Pantry2Go refrigerated truck. At the appointed time, attendees took their seats before Wilkinson Center Executive Director Anne Reeder took the podium to welcome everyone to the launch of the new Pantry2Go refrigerated food delivery, which will begin serving schools, seniors and others in the community in July.
She first took a few moments to recognize Pantry2Go sponsors and their representatives in attendance including North Texas Food Bank President/CEO Trisha Cunningham, American Airlines Community Relations and Giving Manager Katy Phillips and Herbalist Nutrition Foundation representative Mary Holloway, as well as City of Dallas Council Member Adam Bazaldua and Wilkinson Center Board President Elizabeth Willis.
Councilman Bazaldua followed and shared his excitement about the Pantry2Go initiative.
He said, “I am very excited about all of these partnerships. It is innovative approaches like this, with community partners that are involved, like these sponsors, to make this possible. And the Wilkinson Center for doing the work that they have been doing for almost 40 years in the community. I am proud of the work being done in District 7 and honored to be a part of today’s celebration.”
Board president Willis followed to add her gratitude to all of those in the audience who supported the Pantry2Go initiative, which included North Texas Food Bank, which provided the lead gift for the Pantry2Go mobile food program.
Cunningham then took the podium and in her remarks shared, “In the last 18 months we have seen needs in our community that we have never seen before, including right here at the Wilkinson Center, where they were serving around 600 families per month and had to turn on a dime to serving 2000 families per month. That’s what I am inspired by and thankful for, organizations like Wilkinson Center and those who have helped make this truck possible.
She added, “We are so excited about this truck and can’t wait to see it on the road. We know it is going to continue to bring food into those areas that are high need, where they don’t have access to nutritious food. We know that’s important for their health and important for them to be able to thrive.”
The program concluded with the crowd gathering around the Pantry2Go truck for an official ribbon cutting. Attendees then enjoyed breakfast sandwiches from Ruthie’s Rolling Café and sparkling water courtesy of Topo Chico.
Wilkinson Center currently serves approximately 8,500 clients in its Food Pantry each year, which is equivalent to nearly 600,000 meals. With the Pantry2Go refrigerated food delivery truck, the organization will reach more clients, meeting them in neighborhoods where they live and work, saving them time and expense. The 16-foot refrigerated Mitsubishi truck will hold enough boxed food to feed 100 families per load. The Pantry2Go mobile food program will allow the organization to expand current service to more families in East Dallas, Pleasant Grove and Mesquite. The Pantry2Go pilot program will begin in July and will visit identified schools and apartments in underserved communities.
The goal of Pantry2Go is to reduce food insecurity, alleviate hunger and ensure delivery of the basic needs of the city’s most vulnerable people. Pantry2Go will deliver approximately 100,00 0meals per year.
For more information, visit wilkinsoncenter.org.
* Photo credit: Melissa Macatee