The Open Cupboard food pantry in Osceola has not let COVID-19 affect their inventory and is urging those in need to use their services.
The 27-year-old organization wasn’t taken by surprise when the pandemic hit and has continued to receive adequate supplies while many stores and businesses across the country have run dry of essentials. That’s all thanks to community support, according to Open Cupboard’s director Rosanne Anderson.
“We’re so blessed to live in a community like this,” Anderson said. “The community has supported this food shelf all these years and I’ve never had to ask for anything, but I know I can go to them if we ever get in trouble.”
Local residents and businesses alike have helped keep the shelf afloat during supply shortages with food donations as well as financial assistance.
“When this whole pandemic started, I received donations and checks from people I’d never received before,” Anderson said. “The support has been wonderful.”
Even with donations, Anderson has had to get creative with how she keeps the shelves full. She receives food from various government programs and larger food banks in the area, in addition to local donations, but Anderson also has to do a lot of shopping herself. As stores continue to run out of staples and put limits on what is in stock, she’s had to bounce from market to market in order to find enough product. Canned vegetables and soup have been particularly difficult to find, as have eggs.
“I have to constantly go to the store and get a 5-dozen pack (of eggs),” she said. “And I have to be selective. One week I went to three places and two of them were outrageously priced.”
Even though it’s part of her job, traveling so much in public places does make Anderson nervous for her own personal health.
“It does concern me,” she said.
All the various avenues of donation combined have left Open Cupboard with more than enough food to supply all the local families in need. Yet Anderson said she’s actually seen a decline in traffic since the pandemic started.
“It’s been slow,” she said. “Which is opposite of what we thought.”
The pantry typically feeds between 55 and 70 families a month. Anderson believes the government stimulus checks might be keeping people at home, but said selflessness might also be a factor.
“I think people feel that there’s other people that need it more,” she said. “And at this point in time that’s not the case. We have enough food for whoever needs it.”
The pantry is taking great care to maintain the safety of anyone who comes to receive food, as well as those working. Anyone stopping by for food must wait in the entryway while workers gather and bag food. All workers also wear mask and gloves, and wipe down shopping carts used to transport the food to vehicles after each use. The pantry also has masks available for anyone who would like to take one home.
Anderson said with more than enough supply, she’s desperately trying to get the word out to the community that any residents who may be short on food are more than welcome at Open Cupboard.
“We can help all those who’re in need,” she said. “ If this lasts the next six months then we can do it for the next six months. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed about coming to us.”