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Refrigerated trailer helps Stepping Stones provide perishable food storage options

In recent years, Stepping Stones Food Pantry has distributed more than 1 million pounds of food a year.  During the COVID pandemic, however, a growing number of families is being served which has strained the cold storage capacity of the pantry’s warehouse. To ease the crowding, a used semi trailer was purchased last spring.

“Shortly after setting up the semi, we started receiving large shipments of perishable items as part of the Farm to Family program,” explained Warehouse Manager Henry Amberson. “This required refrigeration – and the trailer’s diesel-powered ‘reefer’ unit was instrumental in allowing Stepping Stones to provide dairy and produce to families in need. The noise of the unit, however, was a problem for our neighbors to the south, so shipments were halted.”

Seeking a quieter cooling option, Nelson Refrigeration & AC proposed installing an electric refrigeration unit that could be installed in the trailer so that the semi could once again be used. A combination of COVID response funds were used to pay for the unit.

“This allowed Stepping Stones to resume ordering dairy and produce as part of the Farm to Family food program,” Amberson said, noting that CARES Act funding pays for the Farm to Family boxes. “This option will also allow the same investment to be used for future expansion of the warehouse, and we will be able to use the new refrigeration equipment to help Stepping Stones to take the next baby step toward meeting the needs of the community.”

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