Story by Jennifer Archdekin, Missouri National Gaurd
Thanks to volunteers at the Kansas City National Guard armory, military service members now have an additional resource available to them when it comes to feeding their families.
Recently an on-site food pantry opened its doors to local Guardsmen, as well as all active military personnel and veterans, regardless of their branch of service.
The Family Readiness Group leader for the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Tracy Belt, manages the pantry.
“There was a need,” said Belt. “We just needed to have it for people to take advantage of it.”
According to Belt, the Harvesters-sponsored food pantry was able to move in 1,600 pounds of food to their shelves in January. She said they don’t require any financial information, just a few basic questions, and will serve the troops regardless of their income.
Belt worked with Col. William Ward, commander of the 110th MEB to procure a room in the armory.
“That’s been one of the best helps right there,” said Belt.
The pantry is completely run by volunteers and Belt tries to have it open at least two weekends a month, and as needed on an emergency basis during the week.
“Something like this would not be successful without the hard work of Mrs. Belt,” said Ward. “Her tireless efforts and willingness to give up her personal time to help others is an inspiration to us all.”
In addition to working with Harvesters to supply the pantry, Belt also tapped into resources provided by Operation Homefront for financial support.
“Less than $500 bought all of this food here,” said Belt. “I couldn’t have done that in a grocery store. I couldn’t have done that going to grocery stores saying please donate, please donate.”
Belt is striving to stock her shelves with the day-to-day mainstays, as well as other non-food basics.
“It’s important to have some staple items that can last in the pantry for months,” said Belt. “I’m trying very hard to always have some kind of canned vegetables, peanut butter and pasta.”
Each month Belt also does fresh shopping at Harvesters.
“They have produce they may need to turn quickly and there is no charge for that,” said Belt.
Belt said Operation Homefront provides additional resources for items, such as diapers, toiletries and even laundry detergent, so she can use her dollars with Harvesters on other essentials.
“It’s really important for me to have in here other items that can really add to their expenses in the household, such as baby items, sundries and personal care items,” said Belt. “I am making sure I spend at least some of my budget towards those items because I can’t really feed a household completely, but I can certainly help give them things that will at least ease their shopping bill.”
Brig. Gen. Gregory Mason, the Army assistant adjutant general for maneuver of the Missouri Army National Guard, had the opportunity to visit the armory recently.
“I was very impressed with the organization and stocking of the pantry,” said Mason. “It is nice to see that level of support coming from the business and non-profit community to our soldiers. I was very impressed with the family members that volunteer and give of their time to make the pantry a successful resource. The Missouri Guard is a community-based and family organization and we have always supported all members of the military team.”