Betsy Winters, executive director Neighbors Nourishing Neighbors (formerly Bethlehem Place), wants to grow the food pantry alongside the town of Prosper’s growth, in a building that is a block west of town hall.

The organization’s new location will be 241 S. McKinley St. Food distribution is slated to start there March 14.

The pantry has been around since the 1980s and relies on volunteer staff, Winters said.

“It’s no longer a service, it’s something that I do because I really enjoy it,” she said.

The demand for the food pantry has increased in recent years, Winters said.

“We’ve got a 50 percent growth rate from 2017 to 2018, and another 50 percent growth rate from 2018 to 2019,” she said.

Winters expects that growth to be sustained. “If we look at the last two months, it will be the same this year as well.”

The majority of the food comes from the community, while a smaller portion comes from the North Texas Food Bank,

“Because of the community, we have enough to feed the families that we need to feed,” Winters said.

The need for a food pantry in Prosper may not be apparent many.

“One of our biggest obstacles is that people think that there isn’t a need for a food pantry here in Prosper because they think everybody is fairly well off,” she said.

Needs that lead people to use a food pantry vary.

“We find we are getting more clients because (they have) unexpected medical bills, separation in the family. Seniors can’t live on their fixed income and people are taking in extended family members,” she said.

The pantry has also expanded due to increased community support, Winters said.

“The board used to go out and buy food for the distribution and we don’t do that anymore,” she said.

The food pantry has no borders when it comes to service, Winters said. “We have only staple foods on our shelves, we don’t have any luxuries, so we figure if people are driving for food, they really are hungry,” she said.

Increased demand for the food pantry alongside the town’s growth was inevitable, said Neighbors Nourishing Neighbors board member Norma Khayat.

Both Winters and Khayat said that while most customers who use the food pantry have jobs, those jobs often don’t pay enough or are seasonal, she said.

“It was just a matter of time, as you’re bringing in stores and businesses that pay minimum wage (to the area), you’ve got to bring in the people to work those places,” Khayat said.

Even children visit the food pantry to make donations.

“I have a four-year-old that comes in here on Saturdays at least two times a month. He’ll bring me donuts and he leaves a donation,” Khayat said. “We love seeing that the parents are starting to ingrain that in their children early on.”