About the FUUD Pantry
at Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church
Food is our common ground,
a universal experience.
– James Beard
“Our mission is to respond to the needs of our community by reducing the stress (impact) that accompanies food insecurity.”— SMUUCh FUUD Pantry Mission Statement
Our Story and History
The Shawnee Mission UU Church moved into its present location — a closed elementary school — at 9400 Pflumm, Lenexa, Kansas, in 2012. At that time, opening a food pantry was very high on the “dream list“ generated by the congregation.
The FUUD Pantry’s Beginnings
Volunteer members created a pantry formation task force; they held their first meeting on September 23, 2019. They determined that the pantry would follow the best practices set forth by Feeding America. These practices (similar to UU’s principles) included:
- treating those in need with respect and dignity,
- empowering them in their choices,
- working with an atmosphere of abundance,
- providing a personal/human relationship, and
- improving their own self-sufficiency related to food acquisition and nutrition.
How We Created the Pantry
Funding came from the SMUUCh’s endowment fund and donations. Two rooms in the church were remodeled to accommodate the pantry. Funding allowed volunteer staff to buy equipment, shelving, and other needed items for the pantry.
Our pantry partnered with Harvesters, the regional food bank serving pantries in NE Kansas and NW Missouri, which continues to supply us with the majority of our food. Hope’s Harvest Garden, a section of our community garden maintained by volunteers, supplies fresh, in-season vegetables.
Covid-19’s Impact on the FUUD Pantry
The original plan was to open as a walk-in pantry in June of 2020 for one day a week and to serve up to 68 households. However, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the building closed.
Our pantry volunteers quickly pivoted, converting the services to drive-through, staffed by numerous volunteers with an average of 25-30 shoppers. The pantry’s volunteer marketing team used web, traditional, and social media to ensure the word got out about the fledgling resource.
In May 2021 we were able to open as a walk-in pantry and added more appointment slots to accommodate growing demand. We followed guidelines to assure we were following the necessary precautions related to Covid-19 (masks, distance, check-in sheets).
The pantry has continued to operate as a walk-in operation since that time.
How our Volunteers Keep the FUUD Pantry Running
As of summer 2022, the pantry is now serving close to its target of 80 households a week every Tuesday afternoon.
Produce, shelf-stable foods, dairy, and meat are offered each week. Hygiene products and toilet paper are available on an intermittent basis.
The pantry operates by-appointment, offering 80 appointments per household per week. We serve walk-ins when appointment times are available and offer pre-packed groceries for anyone without appointments.
Each week, 25 to 30 volunteers serve the FUUD Pantry in the following ways:
- picking up orders from Harvesters,
- unloading and stock the pantry,
- assisting guests with shopping,
- restocking after shopping day,
- unloading Harvesters’ deliveries
- logistics, marketing, volunteer and partner donation coordination.
Along with being a Harvesters agency, we currently partner with
- Prince of Peace Bread Runners Team,
- No Shame: A Period Product Project for Our Underserved Communities,
- I Support the Girls, and
- volunteer-coordinated book drives and food drives.