The East Plano Islamic Center found itself rethinking one of its service programs when COVID-19 began spreading in the community.
The EPIC Food Pantry had run as a traditional in-house pantry but recently pivoted to offering drive-thru and delivery options to those in need.
The drive-thru program, known as Help Your Neighbor, now operates from 6-7 p.m. every Saturday at 1350 Star Court, Plano. It has given anywhere between 75 to 150 boxes on any given Saturday, volunteer Jawaid Isa said.
Volunteers help maintain the pantry's inventory as well as help distribute food on Saturdays. Some volunteers include members of the Muslim Student Association at Plano East Senior High School and other local high schools, Isa said.
EPIC is hopeful that the program will continue to grow and reach other cities in North Texas. It has taken steps to connect with organizations at local colleges, such as the University of North Texas and The University of Texas at Dallas.
"Any organization from [high school and] the college level can come and volunteer," Isa said. "It is an opportunity for them to be part of the community giving back to the community."
The center is also now offering delivery of pantry items to those who are not able to drive. This service is available between 6-7 p.m. on Saturdays.
EPIC has held food drives for many years to benefit the Texas Food Bank and the Islamic Circle of North America Relief, Isa said. Because of this, the center is certain it can continue bringing in donations as long as there is a need. So far, the center has not reached its capacity on any given night, he said.
"The food drive will continue as long as the recipients are there," Isa said.
Isa said EPIC expects to continue proving its food pantry service and donating to other organizations even as the situation around COVID-19 improves.
More information on EPIC, which is a nonprofit organization, can be found here, and donation options can be found here. Those who are interested in volunteering can reach Isa here.
East Plano Islamic Center creates drive-thru, delivery options for in-house food pantry
A student from Plano East Senior High volunteers at the weekly drive-thru pantry at the East Plano Islamic Center. (Courtesy East Plano Islamic Center)