More than a box of groceries

Baldwin EMC employees team up to help fight hunger for thousands of families with Prodisee Pantry

Located in Spanish Fort, Prodisee Pantry was established in 2003 to provide emergency food and disaster relief to individuals and families in the Baldwin County community. Over the past 15 years, it has grown into a nonprofit that serves approximately 15,000 family visits each year.

While the primary purpose of the organization is feeding those in need, “We are so much more than a box of groceries,” said Executive Director Deann Servos. “When families come to us, there is more than one kind of hunger they are facing. There’s the physical hunger, which can be addressed with food and groceries. But there’s also an emotional and spiritual hunger, and we focus our attention on those needs as well.”

Prodisee Pantry relies on the help of between 200 and 250 volunteers each week, and it also partners with dozens of other nonprofits in the community to provide families with access to everything from dental and medical care to services including legal help.

“Sometimes an individual needs job training or GED preparation just to open up a door,” Servos said. “When we meet a family for the first time, we form a relationship. We listen to them about the issues they are facing, which could be a job loss or some other crisis, and we educate them about other community programs available to help. Our purpose is to help stop that downward spiral and establish baby steps they can take to address their specific needs.”

Every Tuesday, from 9 to 11:30 a.m., Prodisee Pantry opens its doors for open distribution day. “This is when what I like to call the ‘magic’ of Prodisee Pantry happens,” Servos said, adding that an average of 200 visits happen each Tuesday. “We have hundreds of volunteers connect with hundreds of families for a positive output.”

Early this fall, several Baldwin EMC employees made visits to Prodisee Pantry to work “behind the scenes” on projects including putting together shelving for food supplies and moving pallets of canned goods, in addition to helping with food distribution to families receiving assistance from the pantry.

“It felt like we got a lot done and helped solve some problems to help the organization so that they can be better prepared to serve these individuals,” said Baldwin EMC Information Technology Manager Tommy Higginbotham. “I didn’t realize there were so many families in our community who needed this resource. We had about 175 families come through the day we were there. This organization is so important to our area.”

“It felt good at the end of the day knowing that I worked to help those in need,” said System Engineer Ken Pimperl. “Part of the Baldwin EMC vision statement is about being community involved. Being able to donate my time to community service is a great way that I can give back to the community and help to fulfill that statement.”

“Without our volunteers, we would not be able to function,” Servos said. “We are blessed to have a large volunteer base, but we also have a lot of moving parts. There have been times when we’ve faced a shortage of hands or supplies, but we’ll pray about it. And somehow, when we get ready to open our doors, God always provides.”

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