Welcome to the Mains’l Food Pantry; a place where workers create and cook the same recipes they share with clients. A job where each team member has a unique gift and plays an important part of the service. Top that off with a supportive and inspirational boss like Michelle and you have something truly magical!
The location of the pantry sets it apart from other workplaces and services. Situated in a house, with a full kitchen and a beautiful, spacious backyard, it feels like you never truly leave home. When I stopped in for a tour, Ali was cooking Spanish Paella and the whole facility smelled heavenly. The food pantry team is like an extended family and is a vital part of the community of the Mains’l community.
During the Camp Fire of 2018, the Food Pantry provided much needed help and support to fire-stricken areas like Paradise and Magalia. This help and support continued as we faced a global pandemic that cut people off from being able to reach the store for vital supplies. The Food Pantry stepped in and provided not only food, but also toiletries and other needed supplies to help clients make it through another day.
One unique thing about this particular food pantry is that they purchase all the food; it is not donated. Among the partners from whom the pantry buys food and other essential items include Food Maxx, Grocery Outlet and Chico Rice. According to Michelle, “The rice is packaged, sealed and delivered on the same day.”
Currently, the Food Pantry serves 80 people but they would love to “Expand and serve more people.” Michelle said. If you are an adult, receiving services from Far Northern Regional Center who lives in the Butte County Service area (not living with your family) and are having difficulty accessing food, tell your Service Coordinator you would like to receive the Mains’l Food Pantry. For a minimal fee, you will receive at least three bags of food per month. When you combine the great value with door-to-door service, it is truly a great deal! Michelle said, “We also provide bags for ILS to pick up for clients who live outside of Butte County.” They also have a special service for outlying areas like upper Magalia who receive all three bags of food in one delivery. As Kenny reminds us, “We need a lot more people to serve so we can keep on delivering”.
During the interview, I met with the director Michelle and three of the crewmembers. Each member plays a unique and vital role. Darcy is quality control. “She double-checks bags and makes sure that every bag has the correct items.” Michelle explained. Nicole has been with the pantry since nearly the beginning. “I like to shop and pack the bags.” Nicole explained. One of the newest members of the crew is Kenny. Kenny is a man of action; his unique gift is being able to keep the food bags packed and ready to roll out on time. He also goes along to help hand-deliver food bags to your door. Another vital member of the team is Ali; she is currently working on a recipe book. The recipe book will feature step-by-step photo directions to help even the most novice cooks prepare the recipes with little trouble.
They teach their crew how to shop and work with the public. Working for Mains’l and especially the Food Pantry is more than “putting in time at a job.” You become part of an extended family and more a part of your community. As Michelle puts it, “We try to have as much fun as possible.”
If you are a Far Northern client living in or around the Butte County service area and are looking for a fun and exciting chance to serve your community then the Food Pantry might be the right job for you. Mains’l is currently looking to hire two individuals for at least 10 hours per week. Work tasks include delivering food bags to clients, packing bags and making sure the contents comply with any dietary or specialty needs. They serve a variety of people with special food needs including diabetic, Keto and food allergies (i.e. peanut). Staff cook and prepare the meals, making sure the recipes that go along with the foods provided, taste good and meet the high quality standards of the crew.
So there you have it! A food pantry service that does much more than just provide food for the community. They provide employment and teach skills such as shopping, socialization, and route and menu planning. In the future, they also hope to teach their clients cooking skills, like measuring ingredients and the difference between mincing, dicing and chopping.
If Mains’l Food Pantry sounds like a place you would like to work, let your Service Coordinator know.