Word Of Faith Food Pantry – Pt.2

In Part One of our story on the Word of Faith Food Pantry in Monterey, we learned of its affiliation with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, located in Verona, VA. Robin Swecker, Partner Services Coordinator for the Food Bank, explained more.

“We are here to make sure that people have enough to eat. We serve in 25 counties and eight cities, and we are serving about 105,000 people every month.”

On the first Wednesday of every month, the Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry rolls onto the Pantry site. It allows expanded outreach to financially disadvantaged areas in remote, rural communities.

“I personally, in my service area, have three mobile food pantries – I have one in Bath, one here, and one in Timberville. We’ve been doing mobile for pantries for, I think, seven or eight years. We’ve been doing the one here for – this will be the third year. We’ve been typically stopping in the winter time, because it’s difficult to manage the timing of it, but other than that, January and February are the only months that we don’t serve.

“Currently, this mobile food pantry is being funded by Martins, for this year and next year. We have a tremendous development department that does a lot to help us get all this stuff on the ground. You could look on our website, www.barfb.org, and click on “Get Involved”, and it will show you all the ways you can get involved.”

Connie Vermillion, one of the leaders of the Food Pantry, explained the additional resources the mobile pantry provides over and above the regular pantry wares, and how the process works.

“Produce, which I can’t always get that, unless I can get over to the Food Bank, and if they have it available and I can get over there on Friday, before we distribute on the weekend, I do that. I always go over on Fridays and get fresh bread from them, which we do usually always try to have fresh bread.

“I’m looking at what they’re unloading today – there’s like, squeezy applesauce, in little packs – there’s potatoes. But, it’s usually produce, potatoes, carrots, apples sometimes.

“When they get here, they drive up, drive around the church, and they just park and they wait. And we take them car by car, and we find out how many families they are picking up for. Sometimes they’re just picking up for themselves, and sometimes they’re picking up for two and three families. And we load their car up , and then they drive on – that’s all there is to it.”

When the truck pulled onsite at 1:00, volunteers went to work sorting and packaging the various items, and those same volunteers went to work loading the vehicles once the line had formed. Ms. Swecker called out the number of packages each vehicle was eligible to receive, “one senior and one regular,” and the volunteers swarmed it with packages after they drove forward. I’m pushing 51, and am no spring chicken, yet I was one of the youngest there that day. Ms. Swecker and Ms. Vermillion were both quick to point out the need for more help.

“Really, for Highland, for this mobile food pantry, what we need is volunteers to help us, because it takes a lot of hands to re-pack all this produce. And sometimes, the people can’t come every time, so it’s good if we can get some more volunteers. We are serving about 100 or 120 families in this area, so I think the need is definitely there.”

“We need volunteers, especially for this. This is quite time consuming, and most of us are seniors. We’d like some young help. With school being out this summer, it would be awesome if we could get some of the high-schoolers to come over and help.”

Due to the 4th of July holiday, the Mobile Food Pantry will not be onsite this first week of July, but will return July 11th. Ms. Vermillion provided more contact information for those interested.

“Contact information would be myself and my husband, and that number is 499-2323. Or, Susan and Jeff Grant, and their number is 396-4833.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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