A faith based relief effort between city and county officials, the area ministerial association and local social service agencies, God’s Food Pantry has been a prominent resource for those in need in Pulaski County since 1982.
God’s Food Pantry currently serves 1,200 families per month from their location in downtown Somerset, and is on track to provide food to nearly 30,000 people in 2015. In addition to the food services they provide, the pantry works closely with other agencies to distribute non-food products they receive. For example, diapers and personal care items are shared with the local Pregnancy Support Center and Bethany House Abused Women’s Shelter; pet food is sent to the animal shelter. School family resource centers also receive donated items for students that sometimes are donated to God’s Food Pantry. According to director Brenda Russell, “People love to donate when they know that the organization they are giving to is working to multiply the blessings of what they have given.”
Being engaged with so many organizations and people in the Somerset area and Pulaski County gives the agency a tremendous amount of local support. Entirely funded by donations from their area, God’s Food Pantry receives no support from outside Pulaski County. A targeted direct mail campaign to over 5000 households in the area begun in 2014 has been very successful in bringing in more local residents as donors to the program.
God’s Food Pantry operates with a paid staff of four people, and utilizes 30 volunteers each week to help with its distributions. In the last year, they benefited from almost 15,000 hours of volunteer time.
The pantry moved to its current location in downtown Somerset in 2008. The building is 8000 square feet, and includes a walk in cooler and freezer, with several more chest freezers in use as well.
Agency executive director Brenda Russell took her current position in 2013, and has overseen the addition of the walk-in cooler and freezer; has added full pallet shelving for the entire warehouse; added a clean room for repacking bulk foods; and has expanded service to clients from once each 60 days to services every 40 days. A homeless food bag program has also been undertaken, which currently is providing food to about 100 homeless clients each month. The pantry’s target is to increase distribution to once per month.