Community Volunteers Help Feed Neighbors in Need
North Mecklenburg residents in need of food have for many years turned to Loaves and Fishes at the Ada Jenkins Center and Huntersville United Methodist Church. Any community service provider can call in a referral for a family to visit a Loaves and Fishes food pantry. For many people, this is a pastor, guidance counselor, or doctor. Once they have a referral, they visit the pantry at the date and time scheduled.
They join the weekly Wednesday, 90-minute automobile lineup to receive food, and — if needed — pet food and toiletries, such as diapers and feminine products. Each person in a family receives a seven-day supply of items, such as canned fruit, canned meat, pasta, rice, canned vegetables and peanut butter. Dairy, meat, and fresh produce are also provided, but may vary depending on availability.
With help each week from about a dozen volunteers, the system worked pretty well for 45 years, according to Loaves and Fishes executive director Tina Postal. Then from March 15 to April 7, the coronavirus arrived and changed everything. Demand for food suddenly doubled to about 500 people per week. Volunteers had to work in personal protective equipment. Clients no longer were able to select the specific items they wanted from the Ada Jenkins Loaves and Fishes store. The pressure to obtain and distribute more food increased dramatically.
Heidi Acker, coordinator of the pantry at Ada Jenkins, noted that the system depends on donations from
several sources. Loaves and Fishes receives food from the nationwide Second Harvest organization and other food banks, USDA, donations, and food drives. Fresh, local vegetables come from the Davidson Community Garden. Individuals drop off food at Ada Jenkins. Grocery stores donate overstocked items. Local community groups organize food drives. Monetary donations from supporters are especially appreciated in obtaining specifically needed items.
Monetary donations also may help maintain staff at Ada Jenkins. Executive Director Georgia Krueger said the facility has been forced to lay off six of its 40 paid employees so far, and she hopes that will be all the cuts needed. She is optimistic about being back to regular staffing levels quickly, but wisely.
Those who wish to support the food pantry or other Ada Jenkins Center programs may sign up at the web site to volunteer or make a donation.
For more information on getting a food pantry referral, visit their website.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.