As I See It | Roger Partridge, CFRE | Consulting Associate

North Texas nonprofits have always been known for their compassion, caring, and collaborative spirit. One of the clearest demonstrations of this spirit is at one of my favorite volunteer opportunities, The Mobile Food Pantry, a monthly distribution of fresh food for people in need that reside in Northeast Tarrant County. Three nonprofits collaborate to sponsor the Food Pantry – Tarrant Area Food Bank, First United Methodist Church of Hurst, and Mission Central Metroplex. Once a month they host pantry food recipients (guests) and coordinate volunteer recruitment. The mobile pantry provides fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy items and Mission Central supplements the food with a meat item, so the guests have several days of food when they leave.

Before COVID-19, volunteers were assigned specific food items to give to guests. Guests were provided a shopping cart and distribution box as they moved through the line(s). As a volunteer, I offered one of the food items that we had available. The guests get to choose what items they would use, some take everything, others only a few items. Each month it takes about 50-75 volunteers to staff the event. Corporate groups and individuals serve a volunteers, all of them interested in helping their neighbors in the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged The Mobile Food Pantry to adapt to the changing environment so it can continue to fulfill its vital mission to area residents that depend on it for sustenance. The Mobile Food Pantry has developed a drive-through distribution system that allows guests to remain in their cars as volunteers load boxes of assorted fresh food into their trunks.

Assembling the boxes of food is a lesson in logistics planning, effective volunteer involvement, and careful coordination. A Tarrant Area Food Bank semi-truck off loads all of the food items in the First United Methodist Church of Hurst’s parking lot. Mission Central volunteers arrange the food in two long lines and begin the process of sorting and counting the food for distribution. Guests are greeted by volunteers as they drive up to receive their food.

Some food pantries in the area have reduced hours or have stopped distributions because of the difficulty finding volunteers. The full list of mobile food pantries can be found on the Tarrant Area Food Bank website under Find Food. Operating hours and closures are noted on the site. 

About the Author

With nearly 30 years of nonprofit fundraising experience, Roger is a certified fundraising executive and offers a wealth of knowledge in areas including annual gifts, special events, endowment funds, capital campaigns, planned giving and major gifts to M. Gale & Associates. His career also includes multi-million dollar major gift solicitations. During his notable career, Roger has served in fundraising leadership roles with Gladney Center for Adoption, First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, Child Study Center Foundation, St. Paul Medical/UT Southwestern Medical School, Central Texas Methodist Foundation, and Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County.

Every nonprofit in North Texas has been affected by this pandemic. The M. Gale & Associates team has written insightful blogs that have been posted on our social media and can be found on our website. Topics have covered leadership, working remotely, the role of the professional fundraiser and more. Our team also remains available for one–on–one conversations.

Have questions for Roger? Email him at roger.partridge@mgaleassociates.com 

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