Every month, the food pantry at Rocky Mount Baptist Church serves more people than the town’s population.

In fact, twice as many people.

In November, the food pantry – Visions Unlimited – served more than 3,000 people, or clients, as they are called.

Every month, the food pantry at Rocky Mount Baptist Church serves more people than the town’s population.
In fact, twice as many people.
In November, the food pantry – Visions Unlimited – served more than 3,000 people, or clients, as they are called.
That’s double the population of Rocky Mount – 1,600 people in the 2000 Census – which speaks to the needs in the area. As well as the church’s desire to help address those needs.
“As far as handing out food, the poundage we give out, we are the third largest (food pantry) in the central Missouri area,” said Dan Duckworth, pastor of Rocky Mount Baptist Church.
Last year, the food pantry distributed more than 800,000 pounds of food.
“The two (food pantries in central Missouri) that are bigger are in Columbia and Sedalia,” Duckworth said. “People come from all over.”
Mostly, they come from Miller and Morgan counties.
Last month, the food pantry served 1,079 people from Miller County and 1,240 people from Morgan County.
“The biggest majority of our clients come from Miller and Morgan counties,” Duckworth said.
He doesn’t see the number of people being served going down, either.
“I sure don’t,” he said. “There’s a great need out there. I have a lot of people tell me they wouldn’t make it without the food. A lot of these are the working poor. They have jobs, but they just can’t make it because of the economy.”
Most of the food distributed by Visions Unlimited comes from the Central Missouri Food Bank in Columbia, which provides food to pantries throughout the area, including Eldon and Versailles.
“Once in awhile someone will have a food drive in our area and donate food to us, but 99 percent comes from Central Missouri (Food Bank),” Duckworth said. “I don’t solicit at the grocery stores, because of the other food pantries that are in those towns.”
As far as funding, most of the money used by Visions Unlimited to purchase food comes from area Southern Baptist churches.
“The Lord has blessed us all the way through,” said Duckworth, whose wife, Marylin, is a secretary at Eldon Middle School. “But that’s why we don’t have a building like other pantries, because we don’t have the funding.”
Typically, Visions Unlimited distributes food on the last Friday and Saturday of the month.
“But we handed out food the weekend prior to Christmas, and we did the same thing the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, otherwise I would be handing out food on the holidays,” Duckworth said. “After that it will go back to the end of the month.”
On distribution day, vehicles are lined up at the church, located on Highway Y, about five miles outside of Eldon.
“We start at 2 (p.m.) on Friday and run until 6,” Duckworth said. “Sometimes we’ll run through as many clients on Friday as we do on Saturday. We start at 8 (a.m.) on Saturday and run until everybody quits coming.”
The pantry depends on volunteers to help with the food distribution.
“We have volunteers who come from all over to help us,” Duckworth said. “A lot of our volunteers come from the Mennonite community, and we have a Girl Scout troop in Eldon that decided they wanted to come out to help us on Fridays. It’s quite a little system we have going here to run that many clients through. At one time, we’ll have 75 or 80 cars parked out there.”
On non-distribution days, the pantry is open by appointment. Duckworth can be reached at (573) 392-5844, if someone wants to schedule an appointment.
“I’m open anytime through the month if somebody needs help and wants to set up an appointment,” said Duckworth, who lives in a house located next to the church. “On days when other pantries are closed, they know I will be here ready to help somebody out.”
There are income guidelines the food pantry follows, but no one will be turned away.
“We have guidelines we have to follow,” Duckworth said. “But I can help anybody anytime. If anybody needs food, I can help them out. The Bible says as long as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”
Mark Kessler, pastor of North Shore Baptist Church, is one of the volunteers at the food pantry.
“We help to support this,” Kessler said. “We all need a little help sometimes.”
Duckworth, who has been pastor at the Rocky Mount Baptist Church for 34 years, began the food pantry about 15 years ago.
The name of the food pantry – Visions Unlimited – comes from a verse in the Bible.
“Proverbs 28 says where there is no vision, the people perish,” Duckworth said. “There’s not a soul who comes through this line who decided they wanted to stand in line and pick up food. A lot of these people had ideas to be a fireman, or a policeman, or a businessperson or have a good job. I don’t want to destroy that vision. I want to keep it going. There’s still hope they can do that. There’s a better day coming tomorrow. That’s one of the things that inspired me to do this.
“If you have any compassion for people and a tear not come to your eye (when you see people waiting in line for food),” Duckworth said. “If not for the grace of God, that could be me.”