The Pantry at The Link opens doors after 2-week hiatus

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The Link of Cullman County held a ribbon cutting on Monday, July 8, 2024, for its newly renovated and renamed food pantry, The Pantry at The Link. (Cheyenne Sharp)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Tuesday, July 9, will mark the re-opening of The Link of Cullman County’s former program, the Master’s Hand Food Pantry – with a brand new moniker (The Pantry at The Link) and client procedures.

On Monday, July 8, the team at The Link held a ribbon cutting inside the newly renovated space to showcase the improvements and logistical changes.

Opened in 2018 as a partnership between Daystar Church and The Link, the Master’s Hand Food Pantry steadily supplied struggling residents with food stores. The community food bank assisted those facing food insecurity, on a weekly basis. At the time of opening, the organization served around 35 families a week; a number that soared to an average of 169 client households served weekly, with 677 families using The Master’s Hand Food Pantry, in January 2024.

In a media release for the pantry’s renovation, The Link of Cullman County Executive Director Melissa Betts shared that on Tuesday, June 11, alone, the former Master’s Hand Food Pantry served an astounding 95 families and supplied them with shelf-stable and baked goods, along with meat, produce, snacks, bread and beverages items to supplement household food stores.

“We feel like with the trajectory that we are experiencing, we are going to be at more than 100 (households served) a day before the end of the summer,” stated Betts. “Right now, we teeter anywhere from 75 to 90-ish a day at this point. We feel like the knowledge about the pantry and the way they can come in and serve themselves, we feel like our numbers are going to continue to increase.”

The pantry’s new name is The Pantry at The Link, or simply, The Pantry, for short. The team at The Link took the center’s need for space as a fresh start; along with the brand new name, The Pantry is also starting fresh with its collection and shopping procedures. Before the renovation, food pantry clients were given pre-filled bags and boxes containing a set amount of food and pantry items based on household size.

The new procedures inside The Pantry will still net each client the same amount of food while adding dignity, respect and personal choice to the process. Now, clients will enter The Pantry, sign in and show all necessary documentation and then be greeted by a volunteer and a shopping cart. Guests will be able to shop for their own items in a supermarket format, leaving visitors with a sense of normalcy.

The Pantry at the Link is located at 708 Ninth St. SE and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Each qualified household is eligible to receive food once per month. Email jbelcher@linkingcullman.org to set up an appointment to evaluate your needs.

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