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South Panola Food Pantry reopens  with drive-up

On Tuesday, May 12,  South Panola Food Pantry, located at 201 Van Voris Street in Batesville,  officially reopened to the public.  The nonprofit food pantry, servicing the southern part of Panola County, MS, has been closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but will now be offering drive-up service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 8AM-10:30AM.

“You don’t get out of your vehicle,” said Marcella England, Vice-President of the South Panola Food Pantry board, and head of operations.  “They can just drive up, and we’ll load their vehicles for them.  All they need is a picture ID.”  An issued food pantry card can also be used for return visits to the location.

England explained that, although the Van Voris St. home base is technically open Monday-Friday for volunteers that come in and help clean, pack the food, and store it away, it’s open to the public in need of the service on two weekdays.

Earlier this year, team members were offered courses covering leadership and safety training, which included an estimated 8.5 to 30 hours of education.   

The Food Pantry is partnered with Mid-South Food Bank, who just recently leased 35,000 square feet of warehouse space in Batesville.  The new space will be used as a satellite location for distributing food to its agencies in North Mississippi.

With regard to the addition of a Batesville warehouse location, England commented, “I think it will help out, because I buy from Mid-South Food Bank – that’s where we get our food from.”  She added, “We get our food from a couple of places, and that’s one of the main warehouses.  Now they don’t have to deliver out of Memphis, I can just get it from around the corner.  I’ll have a good supply of food whenever we need it.”

In light of the difficult times, the organization founded in 1995 by Marie Leland, has continued to take forward steps.  They own two buildings on the property, one of which they rent in order to assist with bills and expenses.  They also purchased a box truck, which also helps ease the task of food collection, according to the vice-president.

Both Walmart and Kroger stores also donate food to the nonprofit, with the help of the Feeding America network – the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization.

“We can always use donations, canned goods or money – either one,” said the appreciative England.  Both forms of donations to help fight hunger and food insecurity are accepted either at their Van Voris location, or through South Panola Food Pantry’s Facebook page.