Community Food Pantry volunteer Bernice Bailey used to be kept busy stocking these shelves with food items to be distributed to those in need, but donations have slowed down in recent months. There's very little left and the organization is in dire need of donations. - Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
COVINGTON -- If the high cost of groceries is crippling your budget, that's nothing compared to the spot the Community Food Pantry is in. Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the local food bank has more demand for help due to current economic woes, but funds aren't coming in as freely as they have in the past because donors, too, are impacted by the economy.
"We are getting desperately low in terms of funds and food," said Rev. Billy Wade, chairman of the Community Food Bank Board of Directors. "We've been living off a big bump (donation) we got a few years ago about the time the bottom dropped out of things. ... When things got bad people didn't have extra money to give and others started needing food."
Wade said a portion of the funds they received several years ago had been earmarked for expansion of the facilities, but those plans were put on hold due to the increase in demand for assistance and the money was spent on food.
To make matters worse, those agencies and businesses they have depended on are having to cut their budgets, as well. For instance, he said United Way has been a generous supporter over the years, but they are cutting back. Also, churches have always supported the food pantry, but he said many of them "are just trying to survive," as well.
A recent hit that has impacted the effort greatly, according to Wade, is that a decision was made at the corporate level of Kroger to stop furnishing bread, deli items and desserts and other items that local stores had left over to the Community Food Pantry. Instead, those Newton County stores must send those items to the Atlanta Food Bank.
"I'm not sure much of that kind of stuff can get to the Atlanta Food Bank before it spoils. We could get it and give it out quickly," he said. "Maybe somebody else will step up, another grocery store, and do this for us. Food is pretty much the bottom line."
Wade said he would also appeal to members of the community to step forward and do what they can.
"We've been very fortunate through the years and the community has been very generous," he said, adding that $10 or $15 checks are helpful, as are neighborhood food drives. "Of course, it picks up around Thanksgiving and Christmas as all of us start to feel like giving during those seasons, but we need to do that through all the seasons because people are hungry all the time."
Donations of food are accepted at the facility located at 7129 Turner Lake Circle from 9 to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Checks can be made out to Community Food Pantry and mailed to 1169 Clark St., Covington, GA 30014. For more information, call 770-784-0037.