Leah Smith, 36, moved to Columbia last month from a small town in southeast Missouri hoping to find new opportunities in a larger city.

While looking for work in the restaurant industry, she came across Central Pantry. Between jobs and staying with relatives, Smith said the pantry allowed her to bridge the gap between the move and her next job.

"I'm not always going to need help, but I am so thankful for the help," she said.

Asked what types of items she picked up in the pantry, which allows clients to select what they want, Smith did not hesitate.

"Produce," she said. "I've seen other pantries give dry products, so it was so nice to go in and get fresh fruits and vegetables. The meat and bread were nice, too."

Smith admitted she has been a little overwhelmed in Columbia, a community much larger than her hometown, but said she has been greeted with nothing but kindness.

"I've even called the Chamber of Commerce with questions. Everybody has been great as far as helping me," she said. "This is a whole new world."

Smith hopes she does not have to use the pantry again, but she is relieved to know it is open if she needs to.

"I'm just very impressed with what The Food Bank gives this community," she said.