“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35 (NIV)
Do you know what the first thing we notice in times of crisis here at The Salvation Army? Food insecurity. When a tornado hits, families need food. When an unforeseen financial crisis appears, families need food. When a pandemic shuts down everything, families need food.
In our experience at The Salvation Army of Pickens County, food insecurity is the first symptom in facing a crisis. During this pandemic, many families suddenly had to keep their children at home all day, every day. If you have your kids at home all day, which line item in the household budget do you think will expand first? The cost of groceries.
Step one toward self-sufficiency is feeding the family. If you are hungry, you do not have the energy necessary to support finding or maintaining a job. Hungry children are not able to focus on school and their grades begin to slip. Lack of nutrition leads to increased illness. Increased illness produces additional medical expenses and loss of paychecks. Every service plan we develop includes a component for maintaining food within the home.
Because we realize the importance of food security, we maintain a non-perishable food pantry at our Service Center. We use our limited food pantry to bridge our neighbors to other food resources available here in Pickens County. These additional food resources include United Christian Ministries Food Pantry, 5 Point Church Food Pantry, the Gleaning House Food Pantry and others.
We do not have commercial coolers or freezers, so we are only able to extend dry and non-perishable food assistance. However, we try to put together a balanced assistance of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits, pasta, cereal, etc. These dry food products are a short-term relief (couple days of meals) required to bridge our neighbors to USDA-supported food pantries within their community.
We recently had a volunteer pantry coordinator who took on the job of organizing our dry food pantry. Sounds pretty easy, huh? It’s not. She removed all the donated food items from our shelves and placed them on sorting tables. She removed all expired products and divided out boxes for each category of our food assistance. She clearly wrote the use-by date on each canned item so we could easily see it and continue practicing FIFO (first in, first out) for donated products. She packed 10 bags of groceries, so families of two could grab two days of meals ready to go.
As a result of this process, we determined the food items we need the most of here at our service center. We have an excess of canned corn and green beans but have more need for canned protein items, breakfast items and canned fruit.
To make it easier for our friends to help support our dry food pantry, we have set up an online registry at Walmart. If you click on the link here, you will be transferred to our registry that lists our most-needed food items. From the safety of your home, you can simply point and click on the item or items you wish to donate, pay for them online and they will be shipped right to our door and placed within our pantry. Point, click and ship. Easy-peasy as my wife might say.
Thank you for your support of The Salvation Army. Keep in mind that food insecurity is a year-round challenge for many of our neighbors, and we can use your support throughout the year in donating these critical food items. We commit to serving our neighbors well and providing them year-round supportive resources. Together we can.
To God be the glory.
Yours in Christ,
Jim Abbott, Service Center Director
The Salvation Army of Pickens County