‘Every week is Thanksgiving’ at the Pantry

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2021

It’s business as usual this Thanksgiving at The Pantry of Oxford and Lafayette County, a non-profit organization located on Molly Barr Road.

“The Pantry of Oxford is a constant food drive,” said new Pantry publicist Juanita Boutin.   

Boutin explained that The Pantry purchases food as needed from local vendors.

“Most of our food comes free from the Mid-South Food Bank, as well as from local contributors,” she explained.  “People from all of Lafayette County can apply for help from The Pantry.  We also receive generous donations from local businesses, community groups, churches, and individuals who are interested in helping those in need in our community.”  

Boutin added: “All donations are turned into help in the form of food. The Pantry is staffed by local churches and with the support of RSVP, the local arm of AmeriCorps Seniors.”

She credits their “many faithful and dedicated volunteers” for much of the organization’s productivity.  One volunteer in particular, Carol Wedge, has been the co-manager for the month of November, and has been a standout contributor, according to Boutin.  

“She is a 12-month volunteer,” Boutin said of Wedge; “very knowledgeable about the workings of The Pantry, kind to her colleagues, fun to work with, and best of all, an advocate for the clients.  That is why we are here.”

Last year’s Volunteer of the Year was L.A. Davis, who had been helping for twelve years prior, and maintained a constant presence during one of the most trying years in our country’s history.  

Volunteers who help get the food out to clients also include groups of young people, particularly college students, said Boutin.  She characterized them as “really good and cheerful workers.” 

Ole Miss students from the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and Phi Mu Sorority are among those who have recently worked at The Pantry, thanks to a new community service program that provides help from six to eight UM students daily.

During the month of October over 500 clients visited, and volunteers from St. John the Evangelist and Trustmark Bank were also among the community members greeting them with smiles, and sometimes hugs.

With regard to modifications made due to the pandemic, Boutin said “we have been careful with distance and wearing masks when appropriate, and currently clients are served from their vehicles instead of coming into The Pantry itself. I think it has been fairly efficient and satisfactory.  The numbers of people served have not diminished.”

Weekly donations are received from the Oxford Community Market, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Panera Bread, Bost Farm, among others, and a recent cash donation was given this fall by the OPD.  

“For The Pantry, every week is Thanksgiving, and the effort continues throughout the entire year,” Boutin said.

The Pantry is generally open on Wednesday and Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, call 662-832-8001.