Seventy-seven families and approximately 230 people were served by a new mobile food pantry’s first trip to New Douglas.

“It’s an odd thought process, but in a little town, it works great,” said Peggy Dunn, the manager for the New Douglas mobile food pantry.

The food-giving effort took place July 26 at the New Douglas Park Pavilion. Volunteers from the St. Louis Food Bank unloaded four palettes worth of food into the park. Bread, pastries, potatoes, cabbage, meat, fruits, veggies, and other supplies from the New Douglas community garden were distributed to the attendees.

Dunn had already been volunteering at the mobile food pantry in Sorento, when the grocery store in Livingston shut down. Dunn said she learned losing the store qualified multiple areas in Madison County as “food deserts” or an area with a bad “food insecurity” rate. Madison County has a food insecurity rate of 12.7 percent, according to Kate Rowland, the agency relations manager at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.

“What this means is that individuals do not always have access to — or may have limited access to — healthy foods,” Rowland said.

Dunn said that people around News Douglas have to drive 10-18 miles to access nutritious food. Because of this, the area is eligible for a mobile food pantry through the St. Louis Food Area Bank.

From now on, on the last Wednesday of every month, the St. Louis Food Pantry will deliver eight palettes of food to the location of the mobile food pantry. Dunn said that anyone living in within an 8-mile radius of New Douglas — which would also include the communities of in Livingston, Williamson, Hamel and Alhambra — qualifies, for food from the mobile food pantry, just by their address. Anyone wishing to get food just needs to show up with their own bags and an appetite.

“It’s really easy,” Dunn said.

With the response she received at the first drop, Dunn suspects she will have no trouble handing out all of the eight palettes. The next mobile food pantry is scheduled for Aug. 23 at the New Douglas Park Pavilion at 11 a.m. Volunteers are expected to arrive at 10 a.m. to help get ready for the distribution.

Dunn is always looking for volunteers. She said anyone interested in helping with the food pantry or any other community branch in the township should call her at the New Douglas Township Park and Rec Plex at 217-456-6132. Dunn said the mobile food pantry will continue to be held at the New Douglas Park pavilion until December. At that time, the pantry will move into the Rec Plex.

Dunn also encourages anyone to come by the New Douglas Community Garden, located next to the Rec Plex, to garden or stop by for some fresh fruits and vegetables.

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