FOOD TO GO: Churches helping feed the hungry in Indian Land

news@fortmilltimes.comJuly 2, 2012 

Lancaster County is experiencing an 11.9 percent unemployment rate, and Indian Land’s Faith Presbyterian Church and Belair United Methodist Church wanted to help.

The two churches sponsored their second mobile food pantry of the year on June 28. Volunteers doled out two bags of groceries, two bags of potatoes and a 10-pound bag of grits each to about 160 families. Officials say the program is vital at a time when nearly 12 out of every 100 people in Lancaster County are unemployed. Many have run out of government benefits that helped sustain them after layoffs.

The Second Harvest of Metrolina food truck was parked at Belair United Methodist Church in order to distribute food to families from Indian Land, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and even South Charlotte.

“There’s a need for this and some people just don’t realize it. There are a lot of people not working right now and really struggling,” said Jim Northrup, member of Faith Presbyterian and a coordinator of the program.

“You read that [unemployment] number, but unless you are personally affected by it, that number often doesn’t mean anything.”

Food was distributed at 9 a.m.. However, more than forty cars were already lined up at 8 a.m., 30 minutes before people were allowed to begin registering. Recipients had to meet the income eligibility requirements established by the USDA to receive food.

“There are people here who really need this. And when you see their face when they get the food, just to see them smile, and receive the thank you and the bless you, it is so fulfilling. You really see how bad some people need this help,” Northrup said.

The churches sponsored the mobile food drive, which pays for the van and driver fees. Second Harvest provided the food.

“We never know what will be in the truck,” Northrup said. “It all comes from Second Harvest and they receive the food from different grocery stores and organizations.”

Grocery stores such as Food Lion and Lowes and companies such as cracker producer Lance are some of the organizations that donate to Second Harvest. This time, the van was filled with cereal, plums, tomatoes, lemonade and frozen chicken breasts, in addition to the bags of potatoes and grits.

There was no shortage of volunteers willing to work at the drive, despite the 90-degree heat. People from both churches came out to help at the pantry.

“The need in this area is so great,” said Roger Summey, who came with a group from Faith Presbyterian. “I wanted to help.”

Volunteers from neighboring churches and churches as far away from Rock Hill also pitched in to help.

The churches are sponsoring a third mobile food pantry in October. They also hope to have a fourth closer to the holidays.

“We would really like to make that happen. I don’t know if we can, it will be a little extra work but it’s amazing how people chip in when others are in need,” Northrup said.

Last November, they handed out free turkeys to families.

Belair UMC also operates a food pantry for Indian Land residents on the first and third Thursday mornings of each month. Its food bank is now running low. Donations of food, paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food and/or cash are needed.

“Now that school is out, we’re in need of kids’ snacks such as peanut butter, jelly and crackers,” Northrup said.

“Kids that were in school and were eating there aren’t any more, so we’re in need of snacks for them.”

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