Love Link Ministries in downtown OKC recently expanded its food pantry services in size and programming.
Love Link has served OKC’s poor and homeless population with food social services for more than 25 years. Now expanding into a larger space that doubles its size to about 3,000 square feet, the nonprofit initiative seeks to uplift every individual that enters Love Link.
“People relying on our services deserve dignity,” program director Sarah Green told Oklahoma Gazette.
Since 1992, Love Link has served the diverse demographics in the local area, primarily focused on providing food, clothing and household essentials to poor and homeless OKC residents.
In 2012, the Love Link team moved to its current location at 1122 Linwood Blvd. Renovation efforts have been completed almost entirely through volunteers at what was the NuWay Laundry and Dry Cleaner building.
Green, newly appointed executive director Joel Mullen, a building manager and groups of volunteers operate Love Link food pantry. Unlike a traditional canned goods food pantry, Love Link prioritizes a humanizing — even normalizing — experience for those in need.
“Last year, we became a full client choice program,” said Green. “That means each person that visits us gets to pick their own food and products. This allows people to choose items based on their needs and preferences.”
Full client choice means disenfranchised individuals have the opportunity to regain control of their lives. Green describes the program as a more organized version of visiting any grocery store.
“Everyone leaves with about 60 pounds of food and products, including six cans of food, six dry items, a choice of milk or juice, meat, produce and a ‘pick two or three’ option of other random items,” Green said.
Although highly organized, the food pantry is designed to mimic the average grocery shopping experience. Volunteers spend around 10 minutes with each client to ensure their needs are met.
“Food should not only fill people’s stomachs, but it should also allow them to thrive and improve their lives,” said Green.
Love Link de-stigmatizes negative associations with food pantries, and Green said clients of diverse demographics utilize Love Link’s services.
The food pantry now includes a Kid’s Corner, complete with games, toys and books. Green said the expansion transforms the treatment of people in need.
“Most of these people already have to wait for all of life’s basic necessities wherever they go,” she said. “We want to change that by making this situation enjoyable for everyone. We want to make sure people feel like they are worthy of a good experience.”
Love Link’s future programming includes free business courses for first-time professionals and a community garden. While their vision expands, the nonprofit needs more volunteers to meet their philanthropic goals.
Love Link Ministries’ food pantry is open 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Visit lovelinkministries.org.
print headline: Feeding empowerment, Love Link Ministries expands its ability to feed and bring hope to OKC’s poor and homeless population.