Photo by Jeylin White
Rev. Willie M. Simpson (left) and a volunteer prepare a box of food that will aid a Clayton County family in need of assistance. Simpson founded Destiny International Foursquare Church, in Jonesboro, which operates the food pantry.
Rev. Willie M. Simpson, of Evangelistic Ministries and Destiny International Foursquare Church, in Jonesboro, said she wants to make sure families are getting fed in the Clayton County.
Simpson said she will now allow for families — in the county — with five or more children, to get free food from her facility, twice a month instead of once a month. “Making sure families and children are getting fed is something that is crucial in this community,” said Simpson. “There’s such a great need.”
Feeding Clayton residents has been a long-time commitment for Rev. Simpson, founder of Destiny International Foursquare Church. The quaint church, which sits tucked away off Tara Boulevard in an office complex, has been involved in feeding the hungry for the last six years.
Simpson said the food her ministry is able to distribute is largely possible because of her four-year relationship with the Atlanta Food Bank, and it was earlier this year she began receiving food from 10 Publix grocery stores, every Monday and Friday.
With the extra food from Publix, Simpson has been able to serve more residents, she said. As a result, the food pantry’s hours have been expanded from one day a week, to five, and sometimes, six days.
According to the Atlanta Food Bank’s web site, a study released in August 2011 — Feeding America’s Child Food Insecurity — revealed that 27.9 percent of Georgia’s children live in food-insecure households. That is about 700,000 children under age 18. Only 72.1 percent of the state’s children live in households that are food-secure. The USDA defines food insecurity as the lack of access to adequate food, resulting from the lack of money, and other resources.
Since expanding her food pantry hours, Simpson said she has been overwhelmed with residents needing assistance. She said that, before Publix came into the picture, her pantry was only able to serve 25 to 30 families in the county per week. Now, it is feeding more than 100 families. She added that she is getting so much food, she is unable to accommodate it in the small kitchen space that she has at the church.
In addition to helping families that come to her church for help, Simpson said, the loads of food she picks up twice a week have allowed her to help food ministries at other local churches. “We have partnered with about eight ministries,” she said.
Food pantry hours generally are from 9 a.m., to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, at Destiny International Foursquare Church, located at 737 Veterans Parkway, in Jonesboro. Simpson said the pantry is open to any Clayton resident in need of assistance. For more information, call (770) 756-9100.