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Empowered Pantry

Empowered Pantry

The Junior League of Detroit’s (JLD) Project EAT creates a more food secure community by providing Education, Access, and Tools to those in need.

As part of Project EAT, the JLD developed a partnership with the Empowerment Plan (TEP) who’s mission is to break the cycle of homelessness.

TEP employs and trains homeless parents who manufacture sleeping bag coats for those in need.  Full-time employment is paired with a wide range of supportive services to help those they serve permanently exit homelessness.

Through its partnership with TEP, the JLD launched its latest large scale community project, the Empowered Pantry, which provides healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks five days per week to nearly 50 TEP program participants.

 

In addition to providing a fully stocked pantry and fresh produce, the JLD also provides monthly nutritional classes and cooking tools to TEP participants.  Each class focuses on a different aspect of nutritional education and will feature guest presenters from different areas of expertise- such as celebrity chefs, health professionals, and more. The JLD deploys useful cooking tools at each educational class to complement the programming.  For example, during a winter cooking class where participants are learning about crock-pot cooking with seasonal produce, participants will each receive a new crock-pot to bring home and use with family members.

In addition to funding, the Empowered Pantry and all programming/tools, JLD volunteers source and stock all food required to replenish the pantry as well as coordinate/host all programming. The volunteer opportunities are plentiful.

“Developing meaningful relationships and obtaining ongoing feedback from TEP participants is critical to the success of the program,” says Cathy Ballinger, Chair of JLD’s Community Impact Committee.  “We are so fortunate that participants are eager to work with us to master our pantry logistics and programming.”
The JLD’s goal is to develop expertise in the management of the pantry and deployment of programming so that the program can be duplicated with other organizations with similar needs.
“When someone has access to proper nutrition it opens up endless opportunities for them,” says Alicia Hartley, JLD’s Community Impact Committee co-chair.  “With proper nutrition comes a clear mind, a healthy body, the ability to focus and to thrive. “So many of the participants here at TEP were forgoing eating healthy in an effort to save resources. Some participants even lacked access to healthy food due to geographical boundaries/transportation issues. We are so thrilled to be helping to fill this critical gap and to witness firsthand the massive impact that access to healthy food brings to this amazing organization.”
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