Photo by Heather Middleton
By Johnny Jackson
Directors of area food banks and food pantries are praising supporters in local communities for their help in meeting the profound needs of the holiday season.
"We've already given out over five million pounds of product this year, throughout central Georgia," said Mark Brumbalow, the executive director of Southern Crescent Resource Ministry, Inc. "We feed about 3,000 families a week."
Brumbalow said the non-profit organization serves 200 different agencies throughout central Georgia each week, with its regional food bank ministries, located at 112 Park West Drive in McDonough.
"Hunger doesn't take a holiday. We have a continuing need for food," Brumbalow emphasized. The executive director noted that the food bank is expanding its reach through community partnerships with churches, schools and businesses.
"Even a small donation -- every little bit helps," he said, adding that the ministry embarked on a quarterly food-distribution project in Savannah, Ga., this past October. Food was distributed to 300 homes in the coastal city.
Brumbalow said the food bank plans to partner with the Tabernacle of Praise in McDonough for a Dec. 18 food distribution effort to help 150 needy families in the McDonough area. Some 50 families in the Fayetteville area also will be served during the Christmas holidays.
"It's overwhelming," said Allyson Lewis, director of Feed My People Food Pantry and Thrift Store. "Our needs have already increased. Our phones have been ringing off the hook for the past two days."
The food pantry and thrift store, located at 6045 North Henry Boulevard in Stockbridge, is planning a Christmas Giveaway event for Dec. 17, according to Lewis.
Lewis said the giveaway, lasting from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m., will include about 500 previously registered families in Clayton County and surrounding areas. She added that the non-profit group will launch a new outreach program, called "Stand to Get Fit: Fighting Obesity," on the same day.
The food pantry director said The Stand to Get Fit Program is designed to provide adults and children, alike, with education on healthy eating and healthy living. "Ultimately, we're going right to a community garden in Henry County, where we will grow our own organic vegetable garden in the spring," she said.
Meanwhile, volunteers are asking for donated products of tooth brushes, tooth paste, deodorant, soap, and lotion to be included in the pantry's upcoming Christmas giveaway.
"The need continues past Thanksgiving, on through Christmas, and into the New Year," said Lori Miller, director of Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., Food Pantry.
Miller said some of the pantry's future clients will lose jobs in January, after the holidays have come and gone.
"More than 10,200 families, more than 34,000 individuals, and nearly 1,800 senior citizens in Henry County have been served by the food pantry since January," she said. "We could not do that without the support of the community."
Miller said roughly 24,000 hours of volunteer service have been logged since January at the pantry, located at 85 Bellamy Place in Stockbridge. She said the pantry has received support from 31 schools, along with a host of other organizations and businesses.
"The community needs to know that what they do really makes a difference in what we do," added Nola Love, president of Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc.
Love said organizations, schools and businesses have surpassed her expectations this year. "The food drives have been outstanding," Love said. "They have been the best food drives since I've been with the food pantry. My hope is that when Thanksgiving and Christmas are over, people understand that by February we're going to be in the same position, needing more food."
To learn more, call Southern Crescent Resource Ministry, Inc., at (770) 320-8200; call Feed My People Food Pantry and Thrift Store, at (678) 565-7800; or call Helping in His Name Ministries, Inc., at (678) 565-6135.
On the net:
Feed My People: www.feedmypeople.ga.org
Southern Crescent Resource: www.scrmfoodbank.com
Helping in His Name: www.helpinginhisname.org