By NATALIE WILLIAMSON Reporter
SPANISH FORT — While 2023 marked Prodisee Pantry's 20th anniversary, it also concluded with the pantry having an increase of family visits, volunteers and pounds of food distributed.
Prodisee Pantry experienced a 7% increase in family visits in 2023 compared to 2022.
"We ended the year just shy of 10,500 family visits and on average, each family receives about 100 pounds of food," Prodisee Pantry Executive Director Deanne Servos said. "In November, we saw, 1,249 family visits and in December we were at 1,140 family visits, which is up from our average of around 800."
Driven by the verse Matthew 23:35, which says, "I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me," Servos said 2023 was a big year for the pantry.
"We served 1.3 million pounds of food in 2023, and it is humbling because if the community did not support our efforts, we would not be able to do that," Servos said. "I am proud to say it is healthy foods and a lot of fresh produce, meats, milk and things that are considered expensive at the grocery store, so being able to get that into homes is really important to us."
Servos said many families are struggling amid rising costs and inflation to get basic food needs, but the pantry has been able to give an estimated $220 in food to each family.
To ensure that each food item is healthy and locally produced, Servos said they purchase food items from local farmers and vendors.
"We also work with the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and by doing all of that, we are able to reduce our costs," Servos said. "By keeping our purchases to local farmers and local vendors, we are able to keep that money in our community, so it is just a cycle."
To help meet the need of increased families and food distributed, the pantry also saw an increase of volunteers.
"We are back open, and we really kind of put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and we are starting to see our families with children back, which is a blessing," she said. "We are starting to see those teenagers coming back to serve from local high schools, and it makes us feel warm and fuzzy knowing that the whole community can be back volunteering. Many hands make light work." Link to story here