Changes have been happening at the Troup Community Food Pantry this year. These changes, in part, are coming about because of the East Texas Food Banks first ever annual training in which Troup was one of seven pantries among the 356 partner agencies chosen to work with ETFB to attend. The first step in the series of changes is the pantry’s leap to Client Choice.
Starting in January, those who visit the Troup Pantry, located at 202 East Duval Street in the basement of First United Methodist Church, now get to decide what they will be taking home to eat. This has cut down significantly on waste, has reduced costs, and has made the process much easier overall. This change brings much needed dignity to those who find themselves trying to make ends meet and also makes the volunteers feel more fulfilled and involved. Gone are the days of pre-packed bags, replaced instead with smiling faces and open doors.
Trey Rousseau, the current director of the pantry, speaks about the difficulties in making the switch.
“I was nervous and many volunteers were unsure, but once we did it everyone was happy.” Rousseau said. “I received a lot of encouragement from food pantries who were already using Choice, and they were right. It is much better for both the clients and the volunteers. We are very proud to see these changes implemented.”
In order to make the change, the pantry had to undergo a significant overhaul and change the way everything was set up to run on Thursdays, the night the pantry is open for food pick up. Choice isn’t the only change to involve the pantry this year. A couple of months after switching to Client Choice, Troup Food Pantry was inspected and then chosen to be a part of ETFB Nutritional Nudge Pantry Program and is now tasked with the challenge of providing not just food to the public but healthy food. Those who worry about what meal is coming next are most likely to not receive all the fruit and vegetables they are supposed to get, with poor nutrition leading to health problems. Providing more nutritious choices will help lessen these worries.
All these steps are important but Teresa Risvold, a volunteer who has been attending the ETFB’s training, expressed an even bigger underlying task faced by the Pantry.
“There are many more people in our community that don’t come to us and we need to make an effort to make them feel comfortable, Risvold stated. “We have to do a better job of getting the word out there, that there is indeed help around the corner and it’s okay to seek it.”
Troup has more than double the national poverty rate sitting at 37percent of population below poverty. But it isn’t just adults who struggle; more than half the school children in our district are economically disadvantaged. Most of Troup’s seniors are on a fixed budget and the cost of living is constantly rising, leaving them with the difficult decision of where to cut costs. Even if you work, chances are you have a difficult time trying to make ends meet and that’s where the food pantry wants to step in.
Anyone is welcome to come to the pantry from 4-6 p.m. Thursdays to take a look around and learn about the program. For updates and future news, go to Troup Community Food Pantry on
Facebook, or call (903) 617-3498.