Tuesday, the Community Market of Pottawatomie County Food & Resource Center celebrated its grand opening. This nonprofit will serve Pottawatomie County residents who have inconsistent access to food.  

"I think one of the greatest things about the Food & Resource center concept is that it creates incredible conversations and collaborations across church lines and across business lines,” said Daniel Matthews, executive director of the Community Market of Pottawatomie County Food & Resource Center. “The end result is an organization made up of businesses, faith-based, and nonprofits all working hand-in-hand to provide greater access to nutritious food for people in Pottawatomie County who struggle with hunger. We are grateful to everyone who has supported our efforts to open this amazing facility and we hope you will continue to be a part of our future.”  

The client choice food pantry allows clients to choose the foods they want so that they take only what they need – making more efficient use of food resources. The center also stocks a variety of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and will connect clients with other social services in the community, such as healthy cooking classes. 

The Community Market has expanded hours of operation to better serve hungry residents in a grocery-store-like setting.  Hours of operation are Monday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In Pottawatomie County, 16.6 percent of residents have inconsistent access to food.  Last year, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma distributed enough food to provide more than 1 million meals for Pottawatomie residents struggling with hunger; however, it was not enough.  The Community Market is vital to Pottawatomie County, where the need for food and resources continues to grow.

According to AARP’s Oklahoma Hunger Survey, nearly half (47 percent) of adults in Pottawatomie County has someone in their household who has struggled with hunger, and two thirds (66 percent) say someone close to them had inconsistent access to food.  Additionally, 57 percent of adults in Pottawatomie County believe the number of families struggling with hunger in their community has increased since 2012.

“We served our first client today,” shared Daniel Matthews, executive director of the Community Market of Pottawatomie County.  “She came by and, even though we weren’t open for business yet, our staff rallied and got food for her. She was a grandmother who was facing life-changing surgery tomorrow and she wanted to make sure her grandchildren had enough food to eat at home while she was in the hospital.  She couldn’t stop thanking us for helping her family.”

The Community Market is also in need of volunteers to help sort donations, assist clients, and more.  To make a donation to Community Market, learn more about volunteering or for additional information, contact Daniel Matthews at Ourcommunitymarketpottco@gmail.com or visit ourcommunitymarket.org. 

Donors to the Community Market include: The Avedis Foundation, AARP, Cleo Craig Foundation, Junior Service League of Shawnee, OG&E, United Way and Walton Foundation. Because of the generous support of the Inasmuch Foundation, the Regional Food Bank is able to invest in Food & Resource Centers in Shawnee and across central and western Oklahoma.  Community supporters include: Family of Faith Church, Gordon Cooper Technology Center, Mission Shawnee, Oklahoma State University Extension, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Salvation Army.                  

Once established, Food & Resource Centers, like the Community Market, are designed to be self-supporting. The Regional Food Bank continues to support the centers with ongoing training, capacity building, and priority access to food and equipment grants, as well as guidance on fundraising, marketing and volunteer management.

Currently, five Food & Resource Centers are fully operational in the Oklahoma City metro area and five are operating outside of the metro in Durant, Enid, Lawton, Elk City and now, Shawnee.  Additional Food & Resource Centers are planned throughout the Regional Food Bank’s 53 county service area based upon need and community support. Food & Resource Centers are built to fit the needs, look and feel of the community where they are located.