TJMCUU Food Pantry
Our own church Food Pantry operates on the first Friday of each month. About 21 TJMC volunteers arrive between 9AM and 1PM to unload the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank truck of over 4+ TONS of food each month. Twenty-one TJMC volunteers, plus 9 non-church members, work to receive the food from the Food Bank truck, divide it into bags, record and process the folks who come for food and help deliver it to their cars.
On a first Friday, the sight of volunteers using hand trucks to unload the Food Bank truck of canned goods and fresh vegetables seems to be one of controlled chaos. We receive USDA food for free and pay 11 cents a pound for food which the Food Bank buys wholesale or is donated by citizen donors. The food comes in cases, usually of 12 or 24, and is arranged at the end of aisles of bags of 12, placed in sets of three. Volunteers then put the cans into each set of bags. A family of three or less receives one set of bags. (family of 6, two sets, etc.) Once the bags are full, clients who have signed up on a first-come, first-served basis, receive their groceries, and more TJMC volunteers deliver the groceries to their cars.
Many of our clients are “regulars,” folks we have known for years. They help out and keep close track that we are fair. In the parking lot, we find them giving each other food that they don’t eat so those with large families have more. Families with children and the elderly certainly squeeze our hearts.
We have been spending about $70 per month plus we give out gift cards for turkeys in November and December. Our extra gift cards are disbursed to our own members in need by the minister. We have consistently given out 60 units (consisting of about 3-4 grocery bags) or enough to feed 3 people per unit.
We have been serving about 41 families per month, which includes an average of 141 people: 66 middle aged (age 19-64), 52 children (under age 18) and 24 elders (over age 60).