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The Rev. Dr. Nannette Pierson likes to hug everyone at the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry's new temporary home in an empty garage on Mathews Drive.
Sporting a black cowboy hat and blonde ponytail, Pierson flits from one end of the garage to another, helping 50 clients fill bags with bread, pastries and chicken donated by local stores and Second Helpings, a nonprofit group that rounds up local restaurants' leftovers for the needy.
The pantry, a USDA licensed food provider, was asked to leave its former home in the Sandalwood Terrace apartment complex at the end of January, and struggled to find space nearby that could accommodate its more than 350 clients, with needs ranging from food to clothing.
On Friday, a mother with a baby in her arms asked for diapers.
"Lo siento," said Pierson, "I'm sorry," before writing down the request. She doesn't have the diapers Friday but will have them soon.
Pierson said the pantry is still disorganized from the move from her apartment, where she operated the food bank. The apartment manager sent a letter to Pierson that said the pantry had outgrown the location, and she had to move. Pierson said that after local media reported the pantry had no place to go, offers for space came rolling in.
Pierson accepted an offer from the owner of a garage at 31 Mathews Drive. It's close enough to the apartment so people can walk or bike to it. "Most of my clients don't have cars," she said.
Volunteer Andy Bush said the owner has offered the garage for as long as it's needed, but it can't be a permanent solution because it has no heat or running water. The pantry operates from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
The volunteers are still looking for a permanent location within walking distance of Sandalwood.
Most of the pantry's volunteers are also clients, like Kessler Holt, who helps organize distribution and is glad the pantry will continue to stay open.
"When we thought the pantry would close, there was tragedy all around," Holt said. "Who would feed these people?"