ocoa st cloud food pantryThe Osceola Council on Aging officially got the keys — after they put down a large pair of scissors — to a new place in St. Cloud.

The St. Cloud Pantry, run for over 16 years by community leader Tammi Madison on Missouri Avenue, is now in the hands of the Council, which helps feed thousands of families per week through its pantry — now growing network of pantries — and Osceola Meals on Wheels program.

Members of the Council, the City of St. Cloud, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce and longtime volunteers of the pantry gathered to officially cut the ribbon on the Council’s new St. Cloud service center, the Osceola Council on Aging St. Cloud Site.

The Council will be able to serve the St. Cloud food-needy community from within rather than the “other side of town”, and this adds capacity. The center will also house office for the council’s outreach and community service programs, like the weatherization program.

“We’ve needed a presence in St. Cloud. What better way than to continue Tammi’s work,” Council on Aging CEO Wendy Ford said.

St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell said Thursday’s event wouldn’t have happened without Madison’s tireless work.

“We need to celebrate the work Tammi did for so long in our community so faithfully,” he said. “The Council on Aging has had an amazing outreach and ministry to our whole county. We are delighted that they’ve stepped up to take this over.”

Ms. Madison isn’t riding off into the sunset. She said she’ll be working with churches and other charitable organizations to set up pantries in other parts of county, and beyond.

“Second Harvest (Food Bank) has contacted me to set something up like this in Orlando,” she said Thursday. “Because of this, I’m able to move to other places, and I’m still available here if (the Council) needs anything.”

Still, it’s still not easy to move on after 16 years.

“I embraced this place, but I know it’s moving on,” Madison said.

As Thursday’s ribbon-cutting wrapped up, it was time to go to work on the day’s food distribution. Cars were already like up along 9th Street to receive their monthly box of staples.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Friday,  January 28, 2022