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Murray Journal

As food insecurity rises, so do Murray residents’ resolve to meet the challenge

Jun 15, 2020 12:02PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

With the economy in turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Murray community leaders have come together to provide relief to some of Murray’s most vulnerable residents—children. The Murray Children’s Pantry (MCP), a newly formed organization, will focus on feeding children and their families in the Murray area.

Former Murray City Councilor Jim Brass serves as president, with Murray Exchange Club officer Sherri VanBibber as treasurer, and Kathy Romero as secretary. On the Board of Directors are Steve McGinty, Marie Goettsche, Eliza Romero, Michael Romero and Jennifer Brass. The MCP organization has applied for a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, a nonprofit charitable organization.    

“It is for all children, regardless of age, race or ethnicity, and their families that are at risk for hunger in our city. Many children who don’t belong to any organized clubs or are too young to attend school are still at risk,” volunteer Lynda Brown said. “We also seek to help those families that are under undue stress due to the current pandemic, whose families need assistance. This could be single-parent families or those simply experiencing a hard time.”

Murray has a sizable population residing in apartments and rental properties who are typically young families. With national unemployment rates at 25%, families with very young children that are not able to take advantage of school district subsidized school lunches can suffer from food insecurity.

MCP intends to form alliances with the Murray Police and Murray Fire Departments, along with the Murray Victims Alliance. These front-line organizations can help identify those who need or are seeking assistance. The MCP, currently located at the former Creekside School (179 E. Myrtle Ave.), will relocate to the Murray Baptist Church Parsonage (184 E. 5770 South) starting June 15.  

“We will have a volunteer committee soon and other programs where our community can get involved. We will also be reaching out to Murray businesses and community organizations to join in our advocate program,” Brown said.

This program differs from other food programs since it is all-inclusive of all children and their families that need food. They don’t need to belong to any particular club, school or athletic/sports group. If they are in Murray, they can access the pantry.

“There will always be more demand for food than the pantry can supply. Hunger is an ever-growing problem, and the MCP hopes to rally the community together to address our needs,” Brown said. “We are currently helping some organizations with their food programs, and the need is always greater than the resource.”

The organization is currently taking in food donations and monetary support to purchase what they need. They accept all new, non-perishable, non-expired food for distribution. On social media, they post items that they are in most need of each week before their food drives, which are every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and the third Saturday of each month at the same time.

According to Brown, “Our current plans include getting our committees and community volunteers organized to help us reach as many children and families as possible and to bring in as much food as possible. We would never want to turn families away because we ran out of food. We have future plans for fundraising activities when the lockdown lifts. We see us outgrowing our current space very quickly as needs and donations increase. At this point, we see giving out boxes or shopping bags of food that will supply several days’ worth of meals, but that is still being determined.

“The best support is for anyone supporting our pantry to bring whatever you can in suggested food items to one of our drives. If you have a business, please contact one of us about becoming a partner.  We are confident everyone is with us in seeing that our future generation of kids get what they need to grow strong into the business leaders, government and city employees, neighbors, and friends of Murray.”