Volunteers help silence hunger pains

Published 8:32 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

JACKSON — One by one, vehicles line Thomas Bragg Drive towards the United Methodist Church here.

Those inside the vehicles have a different story, but all have the same need.

With the help of dozens of volunteers, that need is slightly eased as trunks and backseats are filled with food.

Each fourth Monday, the Food Bank of the Albemarle comes to Northampton County, first making a stop in Rich Square at the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA) and then in Jackson at the church.

“They’re very, very appreciative,” said Jackson UMC member Marvin Coleman about the recipients. “Northampton County is one of the poorest counties in the state.”

Each truckload brings different kinds of “staple” foods, from meats to water to cereal, in its compartments, but in the end its contents fulfill a need recognized by the faith community in Northampton County.

According to Coleman, the effort involves a coalition of churches of different denominations as well as CADA.

“There is a charge for the food at 18 cents a pound for an administrative cost to the Food Bank,” he said.

Coleman added the churches pay for that cost.

The food distribution was spearheaded by the church’s former Reverend, Warren Heitzenrater. That effort has now been carried on by the church’s new pastor, Barry Stallings.

“Among the enumerable things he (Heitzenrater) started was the distribution of food through the Food Bank of the Albemarle recognizing the economic crunch has affected residents in this county,” said Associate Minister Rev. Bernice Scott with First Baptist Church Rich Square, who volunteers with the distribution.

Coleman said Heitzenrater had ties with the Food Bank of the Albemarle. Those connections helped to set up the first site in February.

The two current sites serve 225 people and Coleman said there’s talk of adding two more sites within the county.

The Church of the Saviour Vicar Foy Bradshaw noted a vital part of the food distribution is the volunteers. Last month dozens of volunteers assisted with the effort despite the oppressive summer heat.

“Last time there was torrential rain, this time it’s Sahara heat; the volunteers willing help no matter what is another example of living the gospel,” he said.

Scott said persons eligible to receive the food should be: senior citizens, those who live on a limited fixed income, disabled persons, families having difficulties paying their bills or are unemployed.

Coleman said the recipient should be a resident of Northampton County.

Scott said those who are interested in receiving food should bring forms of identification to help with the registration process.

For more information or to make a donation to the food distribution, contact the Jackson UMC at 534-8711.