Nonprofit offers free groceries to clients
In 2008, Cheryl Jackson began Minnie's Food Pantry, a local nonprofit that helps feed the city of Plano and surrounding communities in North Texas, as a way to honor her mother's giving spirit.
Jackson said her parents taught her the value of helping others by example. Jackson's mother, Minnie Ewing, grew up hungry and from her experiences, she and her husband decided to open their home to those in need. When her father died, Jackson decided to channel that pain into honoring her widowed mother, inspiring the name of the food pantry.
"I decided to create a space and create a place where people could come get food and leave happier than when they came," she said.
At Minnie's, patrons enter the store on a red carpet with volunteers offering hugs and welcoming phrases of "good morning." Clients check in at a front desk, receive a number and are seated while he or she waits for volunteers to gather food in grocery carts. Once collected, a volunteer pushes the cart of food to the client's car.
"We just want them to be treated like first class, top of the line, where they're not worrying about anything," Jackson said.
By creating a friendly atmosphere, Jackson said she hopes people will feel less stress about needing to visit a food pantry, especially the children.
"[The kids] don't think of it as a, 'We're coming here because our family needs food,' and that's the way it should be," she said.
On average, Jackson said there are 40 to 50 volunteers who serve the food pantry, which distributes food Wednesday to Saturday from 9–11 a.m. A variety of companies and churches are monthly sustaining donors, such as Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Pizza Hut and Grace Presbyterian Church.
Eligibility to receive food from the pantry is determined by federal income guidelines that measure a need based on his or her income. To receive food, clients must also provide a valid photo identification card, a current utility bill in their name and fill out a confidential form to help the pantry track service.
3033 W. Parker Road, Ste. 117, 972-596-0253, www.minniesfoodpantry.org