People’s Pantry: Working Through Difficult Times

The COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for everyone. Located in Tulsa, and operating with a greatly reduced volunteer staff, Lori Lewis Dryer from the People’s Pantry, a Partner Agency of the Food Bank, felt fortunate to receive disaster relief boxes to help provide food for the increase in clients. As one of the few pantries with an evening distribution, they see the biggest increase in clients that go to their evening delivery.

“We’ve increased probably about 30% over what we have previously provided. We’re now doing Groceries on the Curb. We take the paperwork and everything outside and line the vehicles up.”

Lori mentioned how much the boxes help. Similar to the regular items in her inventory, the boxes are ready to go and can store securely in areas close to their drive-through location.

“This is a really hard, and stressful time for everybody. I would say 70% of the people we saw the last two times were people who had just lost their jobs with regard to the COVID-19 issue. Mothers with children, no job, so they have to come up with a plan and are scrambling to find all of the different avenues where they can get assistance.”

Lori worries most about many of the seniors she typically sees on a regular basis. Although they can send proxies to pick up food, most struggle with transportation issues and haven’t. “Disappointingly, my older clients have not been able to come out. They are staying home.” She fears their concern of going out in public conflicts with their need for food.

Lori was most passionate when describing her clients reaction, and her own gratitude during this situation. “Everybody is just grateful. It is hard to understand how difficult this is. Unless you’ve tried to put a pantry together, no one knows how much it saves us money, time, and effort to have the Food Bank provide food, get it prepped, ready and loaded.

Without the dedication of hard-working, committed pantry coordinators like Lori, her husband David, and their volunteer, Terri, who currently risk their own health, so many people wouldn’t have access to food. “I love the Food Bank and I thank them for what they do for my pantry and my clients. Without the Food Bank, we couldn’t do what we do and my clients wouldn’t be able to get assistance.”

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