The Marcus Mission Center
The Marcus Mission Center is a food and clothing pantry located in Marietta, Georgia. In partnership
with Turner Chapel AME Church, The Marcus Mission Center (under its former name) has been serving
the community for more than twenty-five years. From January 2022 through June 2022 alone, 324
families have been served (922 women, men, and children) with a distribution of 22,961 lbs. of food.
Mission: to end hunger and poverty by providing support through the Mission Center and
partnering with state and federally funded programs to make lives better throughout out Cobb County.
In 1995, Betty Barksdale saw a growing need in our community. She began collecting food items and
distributing them from her car to those in need. In 1997, the Turner Chapel AME Church offered her a
small white house at 527 Lawrence Street to open an official food pantry, and she asked volunteers to
assist her in collecting items and running the pantry. They called the pantry The White House. When the
need in our community continued to grow, Ms. Barksdale solicited the Women’s Missionary Society to
man and manage the White House, which they began doing in 2000.
Each year from 2000-2017 the number of families that we assisted rose each month. We had lines on
our porch each week and worked within our means to solicit healthy food options and reduce the
the number of persons we had to turn away because we ran out of food.
In 2017, the White House experienced electrical and plumbing concerns that made the house
inoperable. The missionaries and our pastor, the late Rev Kenneth Marcus, put together a plan in 2018,
to rebuild a larger and more efficient facility to support our community. While funds were raised, the
pantry moved to our old church at 548 Lawrence Street and operated on Sunday’s following service. We
then moved and operated from the church counseling center at 480 N. Fairground from June 2019-
In January 2022, after many years of raising funds and conducting a lengthy building project, we opened
the Marcus Mission Center (named after our beloved Rev Kenneth Marcus and his wife, Cassandra
The pantry never closed, even during the COVID Pandemic. We practiced all of the recommended
safeguards (wearing masks and gloves and weekly sanitation) to ensure our patrons and volunteers
were safe. Even with the loss of some of our more senior volunteers due to safety protocols, our small
group of diligent and energetic volunteers continued to make a big difference in our community.
Partnering with Panera Bread since 2015, we are able to supply fresh bread. Our local boy scout and girl
scout troops and members conduct annual can food drives. We also work with the local Post Office
to participate in the Annual Can Food Collection to meet the growing needs of our patrons. Our Seniors
and volunteers collect personal care items (toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo,
conditioner, combs, brushes, and feminine items) to make personal bags for the holidays. Our generous
congregation donates new and gently used men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing for our patrons for
back to school, for job interviews, or for the basic needs of families and individuals who are transitional or
have suffered a loss due to hardships. With limited grocery stores and fresh food availability, we have
also partnered with local growers and harvesters to provide fresh seasonal produce each week
throughout the summer and fall.
Currently, we are open on Wednesdays 1 pm-3 pm and Saturdays 10 am-2 pm. Each month, we are
serving 50-65 families, distributing 3,500-4,500 lbs. of food. We are seeing our numbers increase each
month as we advertise our program within the congregation, though local agencies, and through the
Atlanta Community Food Bank.
This incredible volunteer effort to address food scarcity and hunger has made a tremendous
contribution to our community over the last 25 years. From a humble beginning to a multi-year building-
fund drive, to keeping its doors open throughout the pandemic, these volunteers have proven their
commitment to this program. Turner Chapel AME Church continues to donate both funding and the in-
kind contribution of the building.
Our program manager, Paula Turner West, is the Women’s Missionary President for Turner Chapel AME
Church. She acts as the face of this project, and she builds relationships with local agencies, churches,
and community leaders. She also prepares community service and volunteer reports. She will continue
to donate her time.