New Mobile Pantry planned for Cobb

Based in Marietta, MUST Ministries is seeking funds to buy a school bus that can be transformed into a Neighborhood Mobile Pantry. The bus would be used to bring food closer to those in need who have no transportation to a food pantry or a grocery store.

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Based in Marietta, MUST Ministries is seeking funds to buy a school bus that can be transformed into a Neighborhood Mobile Pantry. The bus would be used to bring food closer to those in need who have no transportation to a food pantry or a grocery store.

A new Neighborhood Mobile Pantry will bring food within reach to families in need who have limited mobility and transportation in Cobb, Cherokee and surrounding counties.

First, money needs to be raised to buy and convert a school bus into the mobile pantry, according to a MUST Ministries’ statement.

The Marietta-based ministry will take fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats, breads, canned goods and, when available, dairy to people living in “food deserts” where groceries are not within walking distance.

MUST has seen “the dramatic growth of suburban poverty in recent years,” the statement added.

According to the Brookings Institute in the statement, 88 percent of Atlanta’s poverty is now found in the metro area’s suburbs.

“That number surprises people,” said Dr. Ike Reighard, president and CEO of MUST Ministries, in the statement.

“For every dollar given to fight poverty in the suburbs, $7 are given in urban areas, so the largest poverty areas receive the least financial support,” he added.

Food insecurity – not knowing where the next meal will come from – is a symptom of suburban poverty that affects 755,400 in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia, according to Feeding America in the statement.

Many low-income families do not have vehicles, and public transportation in the suburbs is very limited and not affordable, the statement said, noting lack of transportation as the greatest challenge to those who are in need of food pantry assistance.

“For example, MUST has 100 partner school pantries but only approximately 65 percent of enrolled families are picking up food on a regular basis - mainly due to a lack of transportation,” Reighard said.

“The Neighborhood Mobile Pantry will help meet that need as MUST expands with a mobile unit. Providing nutritious food to local families will also free up grocery money that can then be used toward other essential items such as shelter and utilities,” he added.

The Neighborhood Mobile Pantry will be 40 feet x 8 1/2 feet and will include a three-panel freezer and a three-panel refrigerator.

As a part of Georgia Gives Day on Dec. 1, MUST Ministries is asking Georgians to purchase a used bus for renovation as a Neighborhood Mobile Pantry.

To donate, visit MUSTministries.org.