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Health, Science, Environment

A Mobile Food Pantry Is Coming To The St. Louis Region To Help Families Who Need Food

Low-income customers' dollars will get twice the value on money spent on fruits and vegetables at several local farmers markets.
SNAP 2 It! Program via St. Louis Farmers Market Association
The St. Louis Area Foodbank is sending a traveling food truck to people in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County who do not have access to food pantries, healthy foods or grocery stores.

The economic downturn during the coronavirus pandemic has led more people in the St. Louis region to worry about how they will afford food. In the past year, the St. Louis Area Foodbank has seen about a 40% increase in people needing food assistance.

Many of those most in need live in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County, where there is limited access to grocery stores or healthy foods. To help meet the need, the St. Louis Area Foodbank on Monday will start sending a traveling fresh food pantry to communities that need it the most.

Food on the Move will use a 28-foot truck to offer fresh vegetables, canned goods, dairy products and various meats for free to people who do not have enough food to eat.

"If there is no access point nearby, we want to use Food on the Move as a way to get food into those communities and neighborhoods that may have those barriers where they can't get to a pantry or might not have access to it,” said Maya Summers, a St. Louis Area Foodbank programs manager.

The mobile pantry will be equipped with three refrigerators and a freezer so it could serve people throughout the day.

“Providing the opportunity of getting healthy, nutritious food is going to help nourish themselves and the community as a whole,” Summers said.

The food bank received $25,000 from Boeing Co. and funds from Feeding America to help support the food truck. The food bank will pilot the program in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County for about six months and then expand to other communities throughout Missouri and Illinois that lack access to nutritious foods. Summers would like to see three one-hour stops a day for the rolling pantry.

The truck will first stop at Rock Road MetroLink station in Pagedale. It will be there the third Monday of the month, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Every fourth Monday, the truck will be at Rosati Center near the Fairgrounds neighborhood. The truck is open to anyone. No identification or proof of residence is required to receive food.

The mobile pantry aims to feed people in ZIP codes with food insecurity rates more than 30% and with an unemployment rate more than 15%.

Pine Lawn, Walnut Park East, Old Columbus Square, Old North St. Louis, Wellston, Pagedale, Penrose and Hanley Hills are some neighborhoods that have the greatest need for food. People in those areas have little access to grocery stores or fresh produce.

Information on food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and nutritional guides will be available at each distribution stop. Food on the Move also plans to collaborate with other organizations to perform health screenings and nutrition seminars.

“We're here and we want to empower people,” said Meredith Knopp, CEO of the St. Louis Area Foodbank. “We want to strengthen people. We want to lift them up.”

Community members can find the mobile mini-grocery store stops here.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

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