The Affton Christian Food Pantry (ACFP) values the connections they make with their community.
“Relationships with people in need are sometimes as important as, if not more than, the food we can give them,” says Dana George, Pantry Manager at ACFP. Serving 100 families every week in the Affton community is no small task, but the staff takes time to know the people they serve. “For instance, I know that Charlotte will be sitting in the chair in the hallway at a quarter ‘til 9 for her 9:30 appointment,” Jennifer Meehan, Executive Director, says as she reflects on the individuals who come through her doors. Recognition like this is important to people like Trisha.
When Trisha and her husband fell on hard times, experiencing a double job loss about a year after their first child was born, they knew they needed help. “A couple very close friends had suggested, while we were job searching, to contact a local food pantry, and I did. And we probably ended up shopping there for six months. That was the best decision I ever made,” Trisha says. The food staples and baby supplies were helpful, but beyond that, Trisha found reassurance in the pantry staff. Trisha remembers, “I met with the service employee, and I remember it was this older gentleman, and it was very difficult for me to say ‘I don’t know what to do. I need help, and we need food.’ He just took my hand and was like, ‘Everything’s gonna be fine. We are here to help you.’ And I’ve always remembered that experience at that pantry.”
Trisha’s experience is what the people at ACFP strive for. Volunteers receive careful training, groceries are carefully organized to make it easy for people in need to access, and everybody is treated with respect. In December, ACFP hosts a Christmas Boutique – an event where some of their patrons get the only gift they’ll receive this season. Tammy Kutrip, a volunteer who helps organize the Christmas Boutique, witnesses the difference this pantry makes for people in her community. “I almost cried the other day. A lady came in and handed me a thank you card and said, ‘I got a job, and this is my last visit here. Thank you so much for everything.’,” Tammy says of a recent encounter she had with a patron. The staff at ACFP have every right to feel good about the difference they make in people’s lives, but they remain humble and grateful for their partnership with the Foodbank and their ability to serve over 8,000 people every year. Dana George says, “We’re thankful for you all because you make what we do possible.”
Learn more about AFCP on their website at afftonchristianfoodpantry.com.