Taking the food to the people – in Newport County

Pictured: Executive Director of the MLK Heather Hole Strout, donors Nancy and Doug Horsey, and the MLK Hunger Services team ceremoniously cut the ribbon on the new Mobile Food Pantry.

In December, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center cut the ribbon and officially launched their new Mobile Food Pantry, an initiative made possible due to the generosity of underwriting donors Nancy and Doug Horsey.

With the goal of increasing access to healthy food, the MLK piloted the Mobile Food Pantry program in 2018, bringing food, personal care, and household items to low-income housing complexes across Newport County, where lack of transportation is a common barrier. The new state-of-the-art vehicle has refrigeration for perishables likemeat, milk, produce, and eggs, more storage for pantry items, on-site data collection, and will allow the MLK to serve even more people in the community.

“We believe that being a community center means adapting to meet the needs of the community,” said Heather Hole Strout, Executive Director of the MLK. “We didn’t want to stop at bringing non-perishables out into the community – we wanted to bring fresh ingredients like meat, milk, eggs, and produce, too. That’s where the idea for this custom Mobile Food Pantry came from. We couldn’t have done it without Nancy and Doug Horsey, who really allowed this dream come to life.”

In 2019, the MLK made over 30 site visits throughout the county and served over 900 Newport County residents through the Mobile Food Pantry program alone.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center‘s Mobile Food Pantry visits the following Newport County locations:

Middletown: Oxbow Farms

Portsmouth: Quaker Estates

Tiverton: Hancock Estates

Jamestown: Pemberton Apartments

Newport: AHEPA Apartments, Bayside Village, Donovan Manor, Edgar Court, Festival Field, Parkholm

The new Mobile Food Pantry will make its first visits in early 2020.

About the MLK Community Center:

Founded in 1922 and renamed honoring Dr. King in 1968, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center is a central service provider for at-risk individuals, families, and seniors. An independent nonprofit, the MLK Community Center fights hunger, promotes health, educates young and school-aged kids, supports families, and engages seniors.

​Mission: The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center nourishes, educates, and supports Newport County, Rhode Island residents to improve their economic and social well-being.

Vision: We build a strong and united community where all people are empowered to be self-reliant and to live their best quality of life.

Programs: Programs encompass three areas:

  • Hunger Prevention and Nutrition
  • Early Childhood and Extended Learning Time Education
  • Community Support Programs

Agency goals are to:

  • Reduce hunger through our food pantry, daily meal program, and home food delivery. 
  • Increase health through agency-wide access to a Registered Dietitian, nutrition education, fitness and wellness programming, and other engaging programs.
  • Offer high-performing educational programs for children while holistically supporting the needs of their parents and families.  

To support the work of the Martin Luther King Center or to learn more, go to:

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