Adapting and Serving in St. Clair County
Impressed. That is how Darlene Coatney describes her time working for West Central Missouri Community Action Agency in St. Clair County.
“St. Clair County is a sparse county. In a rural area like this, our agency makes a big difference,” explains Darlene.
Darlene is the Community Services Associate and Food Pantry Personnel at WCMCAA-St. Clair County. She says that clients who come in are grateful for the pantry, and at every pantry WCMCAA operates, workers get to hear how they are making a difference.
“You hold onto that when you have a tough day,” says Darlene.
The last year and a half has certainly been full of tough days and challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic, so WCMCAA has had to be adaptable, with the pantry becoming as contactless as possible. Those seeking food assistance now call when they arrive, and with the help of volunteers, Darlene gathers and brings food out to the clients.
“We have wonderful volunteers who help us pack bags at the pantry,” says Darlene, “There are three retired teachers. One of them is almost 70, and she’s had a lifetime of serving others. I tell her, ‘Think of all the lives you’ve touched.’ You never know how you’re going to make a difference.”
Not only has the pantry had to adapt their food distribution; they’ve also used creativity to host a trick-or-treat food drive. Through this event, the community donated about 1,000 pounds of food.
The pantry at WCMCAA-St. Clair County serves around 45 families a month, including many people who are elderly or have disabilities, as well as single parents and grandparents that are raising grandchildren. The pantry is open twice a month to those who seek food assistance. The agency partners with The Food Bank to support its pantry services.
Darlene shares, “Partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest makes a huge difference. I think sometimes people think of dated second hand stuff when they come to a food pantry, but we get good quality food from you guys. It’s not just to sustain people, it’s healthy.”
In addition to a food pantry, WCMCAA offers many services that assist and advance their communities, including energy assistance, home weatherization, housing and rent assistance, job skills, connections to community resources, and more!
“I’m just super impressed with the amount of good we do here. It makes such a big difference. I’m honored to be a part of it,” says Darlene, “I’m not sure what’s around the corner. We look forward to when we can open up like normal again, but in the meantime we’ll keep adapting and serving to the best of our ability.”
The Food Bank is grateful for our partnership with the West Central Community Action Agency in St. Clair County! To learn more about the agency’s programs, visit wcmcaa.org.