The Mitchell Food Pantry is expected to move into a new home on North Rowley Street soon after having outgrown its current building on First Avenue, according to one of the directors of the organization.
Karen Pooley, a director for the pantry, said the Mitchell Food Pantry had secured space in the corner of the Slumberland building, located at 812 N. Rowley St., Suite C. The space is currently undergoing renovation and she expects the move to the new location will begin in earnest soon with the goal of being in its new home by the end of the month.
Pooley said the move was overdue.
“We outgrew (the First Avenue location) a long time ago. Every time we get a truck in from Feeding South Dakota or through the Department of Education in Pierre, the volunteers are forever shuffling the boxes making room for the 40 cases of food we just bought,” Pooley said. “So, it’s just not enough room. We discovered that shortly after we moved there.”
The Mitchell Food Pantry has helped supplement area family food supplies through its volunteer work for over 36 years. The pantry began in 1983 when a consortium of local churches decided to pool their efforts to help fight hunger among members of the community. The operation was housed in the Mitchell Salvation Army for 33 years before it transitioned to the First Avenue location in January of 2017.
Pooley estimated the new location will have twice the space of the current location.
Renovation on the new location is currently underway, Pooley said, and she’s hoping to get the move underway when that work is finished. With rent at the new building paid through February, she said she hoped to be fully transferred by the end of this month.
That move, like all the operations at the food pantry, will be done by volunteer labor, she said. If the renovation work and cleanup are far enough along, the move could be underway as soon as this week.
“On Wednesday this week we have about 50 teenagers that are willing to help move our inventory, then on Saturday there’s a crew lined up to move the rest,” Pooley said. “They think they can move it in a few hours.”
Whenever the move takes place, Pooley said she does not expect the Mitchell Food Pantry to miss any days of serving the public. The pantry serves as many as 1,000 patrons a month, with several hundred of those being children.
The increased space will make it easier for volunteers to work, and it will also make the experience of frequenting the pantry more comfortable for customers coming through the door, Pooley said.
“It will be so much easier because we have to inventory the food we get through the Department of Education, and we (currently) don’t have the room to stack all that stuff in one spot. It gets stacked somewhere else, so inventory has always been hard,” Pooley said. “Here we will be able to keep that food totally separate.”
Pooley said the volunteer staff works hard, but the new location will save some wear and tear on everybody involved.
“We have a wonderful group of volunteers, and they’ll move (inventory) and move it and move it some more, but they’re mostly seniors, and we don’t want to wear them out,” Pooley said. “If we can make it easier to take inventory, then operating will be easier.”
The new location will allow for tidy shelves, plenty of room and a better overall experience for everyone, she said. Especially with the steady stream of donations residents in Mitchell pass along to the pantry.
“People in Mitchell are very generous,” Pooley said.