Wellness Center introduces “micro-pantries”

Published 10:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Chambers County Community Health and Wellness Center is hosting a food drive to keep stocking the new “micro-pantries” at the center. Chambers County Extension Office Coordinator Rachel Snoddy said the idea came about when the Extension Office nutrition agents wanted to place a “micro-pantry” in the community.

Snoddy suggested the health and wellness center because it is centralized. Also, the health and wellness center has hosted food drives for the holidays and has had fresh produce from the community garden since opening. Each time, Snoddy said the drives were a huge success. 

“We see there’s a need because people have been grabbing those opportunities when we’ve had them at the health center before, and since we don’t have an open-to-the-public food pantry in town,” Snoddy said, “I know Inspire Academy now has one. But we are also concerned about whenever they’re closed, like for holidays or school breaks.”

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She said they hope to keep the pantries stocked full-time and will host periodic food drives as supplies run low. 

“You can never have too many resources and there’s always a need out there,” Snoddy said. 

Inspire Academy students and Auburn University nutrition students teamed up to help build “micro-pantries” for the health and wellness center. One pantry will be stationed permanently outside to provide 24-hour private access to drop off and pick up food. 

On the first day that the pantries were installed, they were full of food thanks to donations from the staff and volunteers at the center.

As well as offering food items from the pantry, there will be educational pamphlets available such as healthy recipes and tips for eating with diabetes. 

The health and wellness center was initially established in March of 2023 to help with the healthcare disparity in rural communities and provide access to resources. The food drive helps bring that mission one step further. 

“We just want to make sure we have some easily accessible healthy foods that are for people who are in need,” Snoddy said. 

Items like canned proteins, canned fruits and vegetables, non-perishable snacks, dry cereal and oatmeal and dry pasta are recommended donations. The LaFayette Fire Station and the health and wellness center are accepting donations. Donations can also be dropped off at the outdoor pantry. 

“As we saw last year whenever we had produce, it went really fast or when we did our food drive for the holidays, those bags went really fast,” Snoddy said. 

The center is accepting donations until April 19.