The Community Food Pantry was established in 1997 as a ministry of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Family in Jasper after members there shared their vision to help feed the less fortunate in Pickens County. Others shared in the call to care for our neighbors As the Gospel would encourage, and pretty soon there were dozens of volunteers working together to remodel a building preparing to open a facility set to respond to the emergency food need for Pickens County. Soon after the Pantry opened its doors, 4 or 5 volunteers were providing emergency rations to 12 – 15 families.
Gradually, the mission of the Pantry grew beyond the borders of The Episcopal Church, as members of other churches and members of the community at large began to join the ranks of volunteers. The name was changed from The Holy Family Community Food Pantry to The Community Food Pantry at Holy Family to emphasize the community – wide support the Pantry was beginning to garner. Along the way, the Pantry’s initiative was also expanded to include financial assistance. Soon various church and civic organizations were contributing to this county – wide initiative as well.
The Community Food Pantry has continued to grow in the service and support it provides to those in Pickens County, and in the way of its own independence – as it is now separate from The Episcopal Church of the Holy Family to which it will always owe a lot of debt and gratitude. The Pantry has three part-time employees, as it hired its first Executive Director in January 2004. Now, the Food Pantry is simply known as CARES (Community Assistance Resources and Emergency Services). The Pantry is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors working in conjunction with the Executive Director. In 2004, the Pantry was incorporated by the state of Georgia and designated an independent charitable organization. It is located at 89 Cares Drive, directly behind the Thrift Store.
The Community Food Pantry is still operated almost exclusively through and by volunteer efforts. It takes approximately 100 volunteers to make the Pantry operate each week. Meanwhile, the Pantry is providing emergency food and financial assistance for an average of 120 families per week. The current population of Pickens County is 30,309 (United States Census Bureau, 2015).