Last updated: April 01. 2014 3:09PM - 594 Views
By Emily M. Hobbs Staff writer

Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentNestled in downtown Salemburg, the Christian Food Bank operates the third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.
Emily M. Hobbs/Sampson IndependentNestled in downtown Salemburg, the Christian Food Bank operates the third Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon.
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The Christian Food Bank of Salemburg now averages feeding 500 to 600 families each month, and organizers are saying volunteers and donations are needed to help meet the growing demands, bolstering their stock as well as increasing the number of hands needed to help feed all the needy families seeking sustenance.

The third Saturday of the month, people line up to receive the food bags laden with non-perishable items ranging from canned goods to frozen poultry products. The food bank is open from 9 a.m. to noon.

So far in 2014 an estimated 1,437 families have received services, organizers said, noting that the number can include repeats from the three months this year. Staff said that from November to January there is always an increase of need, with as many as 750 families over the holidays.

“We need donations,” stressed Kelli McPhail, one of the organizers. “The House of Raeford donates poultry, and we have had donations of sweet potatoes and watermelons, but we can always use more donations … always.” Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often included in the pick-ups.

“We have taken students and gleaned an apple orchard for fruit to donate,” said McPhail. “We do get some seasonal stuff like that.”

Each household receives a balance of items, giving them the chance to have a selection of meals. Usually there is a breakfast item, a protein like peanut butter or beans, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, and a starch like rice or pasta. Bread products, like bagels or English muffins, may be included as well, added McPhail.

People, she said, have learned about the food bank through word of mouth as well as through a small bit of advertising that they have done. An online database keeps track of who has visited the food bank thereby keeping it to one pick-up per household address.

The program, she said, has really grown from the first time the food bank opened when only 147 families were served.

Second Harvest Food Bank does give referrals for people that go to Cumberland County seeking help.

“We purchase some food from there,” explained McPhail. “We are able to purchase the food for a reduced handling fee.”

As of late, the food bank’s volunteer staff has had to go out and purchase a majority of their food at retail price because the Second Harvest Food Bank has a low volume of goods for sale right.

“We do get supplemented through various food drives,” McPhail detailed. “Schools, Boy and Girl scouts, Beta Clubs have all contributed through food drives.”

Clement Elementary just had their Health Fair during which they collected food for the Salemburg Food Bank.

“School students have really impacted the collections,” said McPhail, “and the numbers that we see monthly indicate that it is a really needed service.”

She stressed how appreciative she was for the donations, noting again just how needed the food seemed to be among so many.

“Many are elderly and on a fixed or reduced income,” McPhail disclosed, going further to say that often the families come from places like assisted living situations.

“They have to decide between medicine versus groceries or paying for utilities but not the heat,” remarked McPhail. Those decisions are the kind that have caused families to come to the food bank to pick up food on the third Saturday of the month.

One example of a patron of the food drive was a veteran. Because of his retirement check his public aid was limited, and for a period of time he was only getting one meal a day through Meals on Wheels.

“It took all of his government retirement to pay his bills,” said McPhail. “It was leaving him without enough for groceries.”

While food is a number one priority when seeking donations, another item that the food bank needs is plastic bags. Each month they go through around 2,400 bags for their patrons. Bags can be brought to the food bank or put in the donation boxes. There are also youth on hand to help take bags to people’s cars for them as a courtesy.

The Food Bank could really use donations and volunteers, said McPhail. Donations can be made at any of their four drop-off boxes which are located in Clinton in the Walmart parking lot, the Dollar General in Roseboro, Carrolls IGA in Stedman and in front of the food bank in Salemburg. Volunteers are welcome to just show up on the day of the drive and come help. For more information volunteers can contact Norman McPhail at 910-322-5673 or Bruce Butler at 910-990-5734.

Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at ebrown@civitasmedia.com.

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