Prodisee Pantry: Times Have Been Anything But Normal
Prodisee Pantry, a 2019 grantee, has fed and assisted thousands of individuals and families in Baldwin County since they began as an outreach ministry in 2003. People in need are provided with food and information on additional support offered by partnering organizations throughout the community.
The $101,000 grant provided by Impact100 Baldwin County was used to expand the Prodisee Pantry parking lot, which was undersized to serve their growing clientele. And, just in time! To eliminate crowds of people gathering in their facility, the new parking lot was used as the sole site for food distribution until recently. The grant also funded the replacement of several desktops and laptops, along with new software; this upgraded technology has been a valuable tool for Prodisee Pantry as they navigate the increasing online aspect of their services. The last piece of the project, which has not yet been completed, will be improvements to the facility structure, replacing some deteriorating siding and improving the security of the building. This portion of the project was delayed due to the pandemic, but will be completed by the end of the year.
During normal times, the goal of Prodisee Pantry is not just to assist families by providing groceries, but to “graduate” them from the need for Prodisee Pantry, usually after about five monthly visits. Services range from on-site vaccinations, access to a comprehensive private job list, and connections to other resources, such as financial counseling, mental health services, and other forms of financial aid.
Recently, times have been anything but normal. During the March/April timeframe, Prodisee Pantry switched to emergency mode, and found themselves serving five times the normal quantity of food. Over 30% of the families were visiting Prodisee Pantry for the very first time ever.
Currently, Prodisee Pantry is scaling back from emergency mode to “new normal” operations, which include social distancing lay-out, procedural changes, and a reduced crew of volunteers to interface with the families in need. Interviewing clients to assess their needs beyond a supply of groceries is being done increasingly by phone calls, emails, and the exchange of many, many Facebook messages. Prodisee Pantry always keeps a reserve of food for emergency situations, enabling them to react quickly to sudden catastrophes, such as hurricanes, or as we’ve just seen, a pandemic that puts vulnerable families and individuals out of work. The expansion and upgrades funded by the Impact 100 grant will allow Prodisee Pantry to continue their critical role in emergency relief, but just as importantly, to pursue their ultimate focus, long-term case management and most of all, recovery.