Beth Sanders Young, community writer
The Zachary Food Pantry offers a bounty of blessings to residents across the city thanks to the dedication of its valued volunteers and donors. During this time of year, the need is greater due to the upcoming holiday season. On Tuesday mornings from 9-11, the Zachary Food Pantry bustles with smiling faces and merry muscles, ready to serve those who have a permanent or temporary need for a helping hand. According to fifteen-year volunteer Doris Alleman, the local pantry serves an average of 45-60 clients in the weekly drive-thru pick-up distribution. Some recipients get in line as early as 5:30 a.m. to get the premium items available that week.
The pantry receives the bulk of its supply from the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and the generous donations of individuals, groups, clubs, schools, churches, and businesses. Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic put a damper on fundraising efforts, making community support more vital than ever. The pantry depends greatly on community donation drives and filled barrels. There are 33 barrels in Zachary, where residents can deposit unexpired food items for distribution. The Zachary Food Pantry is also in great need of plastic grocery bags.
The service and security offered by the Zachary Food Pantry would not be possible without its many volunteers, most of whom are retired. In addition to the long-term volunteers, many who donate their time receive community service hours, and others participate because it is personally rewarding. One such volunteer is homeschooled 7th grader Wyatt Clark, who comes with his grandfather. There are no paid employees, simply a group of dedicated workers who give their time, talent, and energy to ensure that anyone in Zachary who needs nutritious meals can access them. Executive Director Mark Antione stays busy processing new applicants, checking in on clients, and directing the distribution process, in addition to many administrative duties.
The pantry is located at 5640-A Rollins Rd., next door to the Zachary Men’s Club. This is the third building the pantry has occupied since its inception in 2001. The current facility was built in 2013 when the organization was incorporated.
The Zachary Food Pantry serves residents in the Zachary Community School District. Applications for recipients are accepted Tuesday mornings from 9 until 11 with photo identification, proof of residency, and income information. Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 932, Zachary, LA 70791. To learn more about receiving service or becoming a volunteer, call 225-654-4028.