Twice weekly, the volunteers at Bountiful Blessings Food Pantry open their hearts to help others in need.
Conveniently located at 602 N. Main St. in Pleasanton, the nonprofit organization distributes food items to clients each Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Currently, the pantry is open inside which allows clients to “shop” through the rooms.
The way it works is, clients are asked to line up on Adams Street, next to the building. You will be directed to a parking space when it is your turn to come inside and shop.
Volunteers assist the clients with filling out some paperwork. There are guidelines from the San Antonio Food Bank, based on household size and income. However, if it is a person’s first visit to the pantry they are able to shop regardless.
This past Monday, Beth Gossett, who leads Bountiful Blessings, gave a tour of the building. Clients can receive items such as canned fruit, canned meat and soups.
Clients can also receive baking items, a cereal product, pasta and if they have children, items like granola bars. There are also snack items to choose from.
Bountiful Blessings purchases the food from the San Antonio Food Bank at a reduced rate, which delivers about once a month.
The food pantry has been fortunate to receive donations from individuals, local churches and schools who have held food drives. Some of the recent ones include St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Loire, Pleasanton ISD and Poteet ISD.
“They really helped us fill our miscellaneous shelves, so that’s really important,” said Gossett. “We really rely on that. Also, people will just stop by with a case of water, a case of peanut butter, so that’s so helpful.”
Generally, the pantry receives fruit juice from the food bank. However, recently they weren’t able to .“So we’re super low on juice, but normally they get a juice,” said Gossett. “We had to put hot chocolate out here to kind of fill the gap.”
In another room, clients are able to pick up nonfood items such as soaps, hand sanitizer, blankets, household cleaners and sanitary wipes.
The shopping journey continues, where clients can pick their meat choice and cake choice. In one area is a variety of produce, donated by Granzin’s Meat Market, next to a table of tortillas and baked goods donated by H-E-B.
“So the people that personally shop, they just hang onto the cart and we just fill their baskets and then they take it out to the car,” said Gossett. “So it is like a shopping experience.”
She added, “It’s been going good since the new year. We’re just starting out with new paperwork now. We’re still super busy.”
With inflation and so many families having difficulty making ends meet, Bountiful Blessings is seeing an increase in clients.
“It kind of dropped off for awhile. I think everybody was getting their checks and things were settling down out in the world, but now it’s kind of picked up again,” said Gossett.
Volunteers are seeing an increase in families and family size. Sometimes, families move in together.
Current needs list
Along with juice, specific items Bountiful Blessings currently needs are: canned meat, soups, fruit and cereal. Gossett reminds the public that they also accept deer meat that has been processed and wrapped. Ramen noodles are another product that clients enjoy.
Once a month is the Senior Commodities program for those who are already signed up. Those interested can have their name put on the waiting list so they can be added once registration opens up again. That program is still done at First United Methodist Church in Pleasanton, just down the street.
Bountiful Blessings is seeking volunteers of all ages (16 and older) to help both outside and inside the pantry. If you are interested in lending a helping hand, stop by during operation hours and they will find a task for you.
Volunteer John Ulbricht, who also serves as Project Director at Atascosa Health Center Inc., shared why he enjoys volunteering at the food pantry.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” said Ulbricht. “There are so many people in our community that are in need. Folks don’t rec- ognize the high homeless population that we have in Pleasanton. Beth Gossett started this mission 20 years ago and we’re in this great building now. It’s just like a grocery store with canned goods and dried goods.”
He added that all of the volunteers find it a blessing to be able to serve others.
Gossett is grateful for their volunteers and donors.
“The community has just done a great job of supporting us and we sure appreciate that. And the food drives, they have kind of kept us going. It seems that every time we think, ‘Oh, what are we going to do?’ somebody pops in with a food drive or they come to the door with food. So it’s always been a real blessing,” said Gossett. “It’s God’s handiwork. It’s amazing.”
She also expressed the importance of helping each other and why she enjoys being a part of Bountiful Blessings.
“It’s about looking after your neighbor and loving your community and your extended family. It’s everyone that lives here. So if they’re needing any kind of assistance, that’s what we’re here for. I enjoy doing it. I like it when somebody leaves happy and full.”
OTHER LOCAL FOOD DISTRIBUTION EVENTS & PANTRIES:
•Mega-distribution this Saturday, Jan. 15 at Poteet Strawberry Festival grounds. Starts at 10 a.m. until all items are distributed. Preregistration is encouraged, but not required. Visit safoodbank.org online and select Atascosa County. It is kindly encouraged that clients take advantage of this food drive, so that it is not moved to another location.
•First Baptist Church of Jourdanton will hold next drive-thru food pantry on Friday, Jan. 21. Distribution starts at 8:30 a.m. until all commodities are distributed. Call 830-769-3552 for details.
•Charlotte’s food pantry is a grab and go food pantry at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
•Hosanna Baptist Church in Poteet, 9 a.m.- 11 a.m. Opened on the first and third Thursday of every month.
•Pleasanton Church of Christ, 1003 N. Main St. Monday thru Friday, 8:30-4:30, closed during lunch. Nonperishable food items. Need ID and current address. Calling ahead is recommended, 830-281-5511.
•For details on First Baptist Church of Poteet Food Pantry please contact Stephanie Cantu at 210-632- 8018.