GATLINBURG — God’s Pantry, which opened at Roaring Fork Baptist Church in 2018, is relocating but keeping the same loving volunteers who helped make the pantry a reality.

It will be reopening Sunday, Jan. 17, at First Baptist Church Gatlinburg, located on East Parkway and Oglewood Lane, next to Alamo Steakhouse.

“It will be much more convenient for those who walk to our pantry or ride a trolley,” Dean Crosby said.

The new location has sidewalks and a closer proximity to a trolley stop.

Dean Crosby and wife Karen, who attend Roaring Fork, started the pantry after feeling led by the Lord to do so. They approached the pastor and determined the best location was a home owned by the church on Roaring Fork Road.

The pantry opened its doors in November 2018 and continues to see a growing number of people in need.

Today, the pantry has about 15 volunteers, and the numbers on how many they serve keep going up.

That number jumped significantly during the economic shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One week we had 220 (visits) during the shutdown,” Dean Crosby said.

Those figures came back down, but they still average well over 100 a week.

“In December we were running between 140 and 150 visits per week,” Crosby said.

Crosby credits Jim Davis at Sevier County Food Ministries for helping them get off the ground, as he gave them insight and encouragement.

“He estimated at the time when we opened that we would be doing about 100 family visits per week. I thought that number was high at the time but of course now we are doing about 150,” Crosby said.

While the location may be changing, most everything else will stay the same.

“The change will be in location only. The dedicated volunteers you already know will be there along with a few new faces,” Crosby said.

Pantry ID cards will still be good, and a drive-through service will remain in effect. Signs and volunteers will direct those coming to the pantry for service.

“God has blessed His pantry in so many ways during the past two-plus years. With the increasing number of neighbors who visit God’s pantry, God has opened doors to allow us as volunteers to serve even more neighbors,” Crosby said.

Operating hours will change slightly at the new location. They are 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays.

Growing pains may shake things up temporarily, as the volunteers make room for larger storage space for food staples, frozen meat and other perishable items.

Those wishing to donate are encouraged to give protein-rich food such as peanut butter, canned chili and beef stew. Monetary donations are also appreciated.

For more information call the pantry at 865-410-6748.