As previously covered by Local Profile in July, Collin County nonprofit The Storehouse launched The Academy, a learning program focused on providing tools to develop language, job and life skills for those enrolled. After the success of the ten-week pilot program, 400 people tried to sign up for courses starting this fall.
The Storehouse programs' popularity is a testament to growing community needs. While their ESL courses are a much-needed bridge for newcomers to participate in their new communities, other programs have seen an increase in demand in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through The State of The Storehouse magazine, the organization reported a 44% increase in individuals seeking assistance from Seven Loaves, The Storehouse’s food pantry. Communications and Culture Director Ben Skye told Star Local Media that before COVID, the food pantry served 200 families every day the doors were opened. “Today, we're serving anywhere from 550 to 650 or more families. We have about 1,300 families that come to us on a weekly basis,” added Skye.
Once a week, the pantry offers neighbors in need around 75 pounds of quality food taking into account the dietary restrictions families might need to meet. “A lot of people think of a food pantry as primarily canned goods and peanut butter,” Skye said. “We found that because a lot of our neighbors come from Latin America and South America, that's not a big part of their diet. They prefer fresh vegetables and meats. We did an assessment asking what the most important things were to these families, and we made sure to source those items from the North Texas Food Bank.”
In addition to Seven Loaves and The Academy, The Storehouse has other programs designed to achieve the organization’s goal of providing holistic care for neighbors in need.
Joseph’s Coat is the organization’s clothing program and distributes new and lightly used clothing items and shoes. According to Star Local Media, the nonprofit was recently able to receive more donations thanks to acquiring a new storage shed which they’ve redone to reflect a store-like environment for families shopping. In 2021 the program distributed 42,804 items to 1,322 families.
But maybe the most holistic of the programs might be Project Hope. Created in 2019, the program started providing a listening ear for neighbors at the food pantry and answering questions regarding resources in the community. With the motto of “every person has a need beyond food and clothing,” this program gives residents a clear idea of all the resources available to them beyond The Storehouse while receiving counseling and referrals to other agencies when appropriate.
That way, Project Hope puts all the other programs to work together to holistically care for families.