Collin Image recently caught up with Cheryl Jackson, the founder of Plano based Minnie’s Food Pantry.
Cheryl “Action” Jackson is a keynote speaker, award-winning social entrepreneur, author, TV host, and producer. She has persevered from experiencing hunger to providing more than fifteen million meals to children and families through her award-winning organization, Minnie’s Food Pantry, a charity she founded to honor her mother, the late Dr. Minnie Hawthorne – Ewing.
What is the main focus of your organization?
Minnie’s Food Pantry (MFP) is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Plano, Texas. Minnie’s Food Pantry provides healthy meals, educational resources and red-carpet treatment to every person that we serve. We believe that overall wellness begins with food, health and financial education and our ultimate goal is to provide numerous programs that help families gain long-term food security.
How did you become involved with this organization?
Minnie’s Food Pantry was created from a place of pain on April 1, 2008, with the tagline of Hunger is NO Joke. Having needed food assistance for my own children and having experienced the judgement and difficulty associated with asking for help, I knew there was a better way to do things. I grew up on the foundation of giving. We were always taught to give our best and that is our mission at Minnie’s. To provide food assistance, but to always give our best. Quality food items, that are not expired, not damaged, not opened, as we focus on serving people with the upmost passion, dignity and respect, reminding them each time how important and loved they are.
What is a typical day like for your organization?
Each day, we serve at Minnie’s Food Pantry, we provide non-perishable items, fresh meats, fresh produce, bakery items and dairy goods to several hundred families! We have steadily been serving 200-300 families each day that we have been open.
Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?
“I was in a situation I have never been in before and one I never imagined myself in. I came to Minnie’s Food Pantry for the first time because I didn’t know what else to do or where else to turn for help. Everyone was so nice to me. I wasn’t expecting to take home as much as they gave to me and even a birthday cake for my son. I am thankful for Minnie’s and what they have done for my family.” -Client Testimonial
What challenges is your organization facing during Covid-19?
So much has changed due to COVID. We have had to change our operations to provide drive thru service and have gone from hosting 50-100 volunteers each day to operating with a handful of team members and our Minnie’s Staff in an effort to limit exposure and keep our clients safe. In 2019, we served 1.4 million meals which benefited just over 62,000 individuals in the North Texas area. Due to COVID, these numbers have increased drastically. In 2020, Minnie’s Food Pantry sent out more than 4.8 million meals to 218,000+ people in our communities.
What are your organization’s goals in 2021?
Minnie’s Food Pantry is committed to continuing to serve those in most need this upcoming year. We will continue to provide supplemental food assistance Wednesdays-Saturdays 8:30AM-11:30AM to ensure that every person in need of a healthy meal receives just that. In addition to this, we are expanding our Minnie’s Learning Lab to provide online classes and educational resources to those we serve, since onsite ones have been halted due to the pandemic. We will expand on our partnership with local school districts to leave a lasting impact on the kids in our communities, providing food and snack items for those living in food insecure households as well as those needing additional support due to virtual learning and not receiving free/reduced meals during the school days as a result.
Where do you see your organization in 10 years?
Within the next 10 years, we will have opened our location in Dallas, TX to better serve areas effected by food insecurity. We plan on also expanding nationwide. Currently we have locations in Houston, TX, Philadelphia, PA, and The Bronx, NY. Within the next 10 years, we hope to open a facility in Los Angeles, amongst other places, where homelessness and food insecurity are skyrocketing along Skid Row.
To learn more about Minnie’s Food Pantry, visit https://minniesfoodpantry.org/
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