Saturday , 26 May 2018

Kyra’s Kitchen: A Look Into the Community Food Pantry of McKinney

By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer

“A person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.” [E.M. Forster]

If there is one adjective, which can be ascribed to CAROL BODWELL, it is passionate. The Director of the Community Food Pantry of McKinney has run the pantry for 35 years and her dedication and enthusiasm has not yet dimmed.

The program provides food to those in our community who have found themselves in crisis – jobs lost – medical bills overwhelming – illness and the pantry continues to help its clients for as long as they need it.

If Carol has anything to do with it, nobody in McKinney “needs to go to bed hungry”.

I recently paid a visit to the pantry and was shown around Carol’s second home!

The waiting room is bright and cheery with pastoral scenes painted on the cream walls – art donated by people who could not say no to Carol! She did not want ‘those horrible plastic chairs’ for her clients so she requested, and got, garden benches. The stock rooms are neatly stacked with the ingredients for eligible clients who receive a sack based on the family size and ages. On the front of one cabinet is the FULL ORDER list stating who gets what. The menu and choices were devised some years ago by a nutritionist from the American Heart Association and are what Carol calls “nutritionally dense”.

Here is the sack a family eligible for ‘Unit 4′ would receive:
10 cans vegetables
8 cans fruit
4 cans tomato sauce
4 lbs dry beans
4 packages pasta or macaroni
2 x 18 oz jars peanut butter
2 lbs rice
3 loaves bread
1 small package oatmeal
1 x 8 qts milk powder + 2 cans milk

This is designed to feed a family for 3 ½ days after which they can return for more.

Not a very exciting list – if one is in search of gourmet food! But Carol stresses that they are here for people who are hungry. She wants to ensure they have ‘beans in the pot’ 365 days of the year.

Carol does not DO holiday food gift baskets – or fresh eggs -or chicken – or fresh fruit and vegetables – depending on other pantries or groups to do that.

The pantry is run like a military operation – with specific church and other groups collecting and donating specific items. There is a ‘beans’ group, a ‘peanut butter’ group and a ‘cans’ group and each is responsible for ensuring the ‘cupboard is always full’.

[If the United States government was ever looking for someone to run an entitlement program efficiently – on a shoestring – with NO waste – they should headhunt Carol!]

Carol also has an arrangement with Jerry DeCroo, McKinney’s Community Service Coordinator for three and eight-quart packages of “powdered milk ONLY – NO Substitutions!” supplied by McKinney residents who are required to fulfill community service credit.

Monetary donations are always welcome. They cover the basic utilities and supplement food items.

I recently attended a volunteer appreciation night at EL CHICO – hosted by the owner Jim Collins who has donated this annual party to the Pantry since he purchased EL CHICO. I interviewed some of Carol’s 70 volunteers. They describe their ‘boss’ as energetic and dedicated and one who loves people.

Carol proudly tells you that her Food Pantry is the only large all volunteer organization without a single paid employee. In answer to my question to her devoted volunteers, ‘What would happen if Carol was no longer there?’ – it was unanimous ‘we would NEED a paid Executive Director and a second staff member”.

(Photo on right: Carol Bodwell with El Chico owner Jim Collins who hosted the annual Community Food Pantry of McKinney Volunteer Dinner.)

This last year – the Community Food Pantry provided over 138,000 meals to more than 7,000 people.

There are many ways you too can help the mission of the Community Food Pantry. To learn more, call 972-547-4404 or click here to go to their website. The Community Food Pantry of McKinney is located at 307 Smith Street, McKinney, TX 75069.

“Never underestimate the power of a passionate person” [Sawyer]

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?

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