Mother Hubbard's Cupboard to offer cooking classes, longer hours at new West Allen spot
Mar 23, 2013 (Herald-Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Since it was founded in 1998, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard has gone from a six-by-six closet to a 1,000-square-foot facility on South Walnut Street.
Even with that jump in size, the food pantry has had to cram its stores of donations in the same room as its "shopping" space. Five-hundred individuals a day are served in the cramped space during the two hours the cupboard is open.
But the patrons of the cupboard are about to find a bit of breathing room -- with a little help from the community. Amanda Nickey, the food pantry's CEO, announced Thursday the local organization will be moving into a 3,800-square-foot space at 1100 W. Allen St., hopefully by mid-May, if fundraising efforts go as planned. The pantry space alone will be 1,000 square feet at the new location.
"It's amazing. It's almost unbelievable," Nickey said. "We talk about how we want to serve our patrons in a safe, dignified manner, and this space will allow us to do what we've always wanted to do in the way we've always wanted to do it."
Instead of storing perishables in commercial-size coolers, part of the new soon-to-be leased facility -- formerly an office for a local construction company -- will be renovated with walk-in freezer and cooling rooms. Increased storage capacity will allow the food pantry to stay open as much as six hours per day, and a newly equipped kitchen, with both gas and electric ovens, will play host to cooking classes.
The cupboard was the brainchild of Bloomington's Laura Marks and Jessica Mott. Mott, who had her own struggles with poverty and finding anything but Spam or pork rinds at local food pantries, wanted to create a place with fresh food options for local individuals in need. What was a modest beginning has grown to where the cupboard was recognized in February with a national 2013 Harry Chapin Self-Reliance Award.
With this new location, Nickey said she hopes the cupboard can provide even more to the community. But first, she needs the community to support the cupboard, which needs to raise another $105,000 by May to open the facility on-schedule. The organization will be sending out mailers to 6,000 Monroe County residents and campaigning on its own website and Facebook for additional funds.
The organization has about 150 volunteers who help distribute the food, and 90 percent of those individuals are patrons themselves. Nickey said she hopes that with the new location, those in need of assistance will no longer have to wait outside before going in to shop for their groceries -- up to one bag for each individual in the household per week.
Having spaces for the cupboard's teaching efforts, such as the kitchen and a potential garden, will help residents who are already short on money from driving to various locations. Nickey has already heard the clamoring of her patrons who have just heard about the upcoming move. Nickey has heard them say, "The building is how big You'll be open how long "
"What we hear from patrons of the Hub is that it's literally life-saving," Nickey said. "It's a safe place, it's a welcoming place. ... We might teach someone to make an apple pie from scratch. They not only gain a skill, but they feel better about themselves, and that's something they might not get to feel very often in their situation."
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