With the help of grants, ECHO of Brandon has renovated its food pantry on N Parsons Avenue, to serve clients more efficiently and with greater dignity, said ECHO events coordinator Kathy Collins.
ECHO and the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new pantry at 507 N Parsons Ave., Brandon, at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Grants from Walmart and the Bank of America funded the redesign. The old pantry had a large back storage room and a smaller front room for check out. Volunteers would put together food packages for clients.
"Before, the volunteers were just guessing what people liked to eat" which leads to waste, Collins said.
The redesign incorporated shelves and reach-in refrigerators allowing clients to chose their own food. Each client is given instructions on how much food they can take based on family size. Clients receive seven days worth of nonperishable items, and can now chose from additional options like margarine, eggs, fresh produce and meat.
The redesign goes hand-on-hand with ECHO's other services, like free GED classes and basic computer literacy classes for adults. The services are meant to "get them out of the problem they are in and get them back in the workforce," Collins said.
Each year, ECHO serves more than 10,000 area residents in 13 ZIP codes, from Seffner to Gibsonton, Collins said. Half of those served are children.
For information, call ECHO at (813) 685-0935.
Times staff writer