FOUNTAIN, Fla. (WMBB) — A mobile food pantry is expanding its reach to more rural communities in the area.
‘The Caring Coach’ mobile food pantry, run through Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida is feeding families across the Panhandle. The group was recently awarded a $400 thousand grant to expand the program to smaller towns, like Fountain.
“In Fountain, people sometimes feel like they’ve been forgotten,” said First Baptist Church of Fountain Associate Pastor, Michael Berens. He said the area was overlooked frequently when it came to assistance after Hurricane Michael.
Panama City resident and ‘The Caring Coach’ coordinator, Adrienne Pelletiere, recognized this and worked to bring relief to the area through the mobile food pantry.
“We were able to find four locations to bring it to, so we’re in Fountain, Chipley, Wausau and Blountstown,” she said. “It was really just finding the food desert areas.”
On Saturday, she brought the mobile food pantry to Fountain for the first time; she said the need for food assistance there was obvious immediately.
“We had cars lined up as soon as we arrived here,” she said. “It was like 11, and we had many cars here already and the line just kept growing and growing.”
The food pantry was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., but due to the growing line of cars impeding traffic on Hwy. 231, they started early.
“It just shows how many families need help,” Berens said. “Coming through, seeing the families and how many families are living together in one carload coming up.”
Berens said they were able to help more than one hundred families, but it still wasn’t enough; some families had to be turned away when they ran out of supplies.
“It broke my heart to see when we did run out of the food,” he said.
Pelletier said they’ll be back once a month, bringing more food next time. She hopes to feed three hundred families at the next event.
“That means a lot, really means a lot,” said First Baptist Church of Fountain Pastor, James Sharkey. “I know the people are really responding greatly to it because with this virus and everything, so many people are out of work now and so many people are hurting.”
Pelletiere said they’re happy to help.
“For me, I was very grateful to be able to serve them and to be able to serve our community,” she said.
For the full schedule of food pantries and locations, see below. The food pantry in Fountain will be held every first Saturday of the month. Photo ID is required for each family receiving assistance.