Perry Food Pantry finds new home at Rowley Masonic Community

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The Perry Area Food Bank will open Tuesday, Dec. 19 in its new location at 3000 Willis Ave., the former site of the Rowley Masonic Home. A sign will soon be seen on Willis Avenue at the entrance to the old Masonic Home, pointing the way to the new home of the food pantry.

A three-year agreement was signed Wednesday by Judy Pratt, chairperson of the Perry Area Emergency Food Council, and Cindy Friess, administrator of the Rowley Memorial Masonic Community.

Friess and Pratt were joined at the signing by Food Pantry Site Manager Lou Hoger, Assistant Site Manager Beth Schmidt and Pantry volunteer Lois Hoger.

“What the Rowley Masonic Community is doing is really a gift to the community,” said Lois Hoger. The Perry Area Food Pantry shared space for the past 20 years with the New Opportunities Dallas County Family Development Center, but both organizations are moving to new quarters this month.

Food pantry clients will access the pantry through the Willis Avenue entrance of the old Masonic Home and will pass through to rooms on the north side of the building. The pantry will occupy an area formerly used as a guest apartment for residents’ family members. Before that it was used as an assisted living unit and probably originated as a caretaker’s dwelling.

Volunteers with the food pantry already refer to the new site as “the annex,” and laborers from several local churches — affectionately called the Hole in the Wall Gang — are helping to remodel the new space and will move the food stock from the former site to the new one Dec. 15-16.

Volunteers Hank Schmidt and Brian Schmidt removed some cabinets from the former apartment this week, making roomier for the pantry’s refrigerator, which will allow fresh produce, cheese and eggs to be socked on site.

“We need a lot of donations,” Pratt said. Volunteers are also needed to staff the pantry and serve clients, she said. Volunteers will receive some brief civil rights training.

The food pantry will be open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 1-3:30 p.m. Clients will receive a pantry voucher from New Opportunities and take it to the food pantry.

New Opportunities will provide services in its new quarters at 1212 Second St., with food needs being met by the Perry Area Food Pantry, clothing needs by the First Christian Church’s Clothes Closet and low-cost sundries at the New Hope Village in its new shop at 912 Center St.

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