With Thanksgiving just around the corner, local non profits are ramping up for a busy holiday season.
For information on how to donate canned goods or non-perishable items, go to:
Religious Community Services http://www.rcsnewbern.com/
Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina - Greenville Branch http://www.foodbankcenc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=branch_greenville
Thanksgiving is next week, and before you know it, Christmas will be here. For many, it’s an excessive time of year filled with some food, parties and gift giving. But the holiday season can be a difficult time for some families in eastern North Carolina who are just trying to make ends meet. Local soup kitchens and food pantries have already started preparing for an increase in people receiving services. Roseann Brownell is the Ministries Coordinator with Religious Community Services, a non-profit that provides food, clothing and shelter to needy people in Craven, Pamlico and Jones Counties.
“We started prepping on Monday before Thanksgiving. I end up cooking about 10 to 12 turkeys, we go ahead… I’ve already had someone get my collard greens ready.”
Brownell says this is the busiest time of the year for their organization. On Thanksgiving, she estimates about 150 will turn out to receive a hot meal at the RCS’s Soup Kitchen.
“I’ve got a gentleman who’s been coming the past several years, he and his family. And he works with Carolina East Medical Center. We just got people they don’t cook anymore, they don’t have family around here anymore so they come and this is their family.”
About 20 volunteers will be on hand this Thanksgiving to help prepare and serve the meal. Religious Community Services also runs a food pantry service. They receive most of their food donations from individuals and food drives. Currently, RCS Executive Director Mike McMillian says their hoping canned goods and nonperishable items will come in so they can keep up with the growing demand that the holiday season brings.
“Our present need in the food pantry is not at crisis but it’s close to it. We have a higher demand in the last two years, actually. Families coming and asking for canned goods to take home and prepare a meal at home. We’re able to serve about 20 households per day. In the afternoon, we try to give them a quantity of food that will serve them for about a week.”
RCS also looks to another non-profit in the area for help in providing nutrition to the needy. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serves a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters located throughout a 34 county region. The organization supplies food to these partnering agencies through distribution centers in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, Southern Pines and Wilmington.
“We have just had a big food drive and we have unloaded it off the truck and he’s bringing it in and weighing it.”
That’s Angel Ray. She’s the volunteer coordinator at the distribution center in Greenville.
“the room that we’re fixing to go is the produce room that is 17 by 23 (feet). Just a big cooler insulated where we keep... it’s a storage area.”
The Greenville Food Bank recently moved to a new, larger building on Union Street on October 1st. The 17,500 square foot space is used to hold food until it’s distributed to their 10-county service area. Ray says the Greenville location is the hub for eastern North Carolina.
“We have more space, more storage space to hold more food. And the volunteer area is tremendous. I love that area especially for my volunteers. That’s a big difference from what we had at the old place.”
The new facility also has several coolers for meat, bread, and frozen food items. Dry food is packaged on crates, and stored on tall shelves in the warehouse. Last fiscal year, over 8.8 million pounds of food was delivered to 94 partnering agencies. Ray says the extra space at the Food Bank is sorely needed as the demand for their services grows.
“Especially for our coastal counties, especially during the time when the gas prices was rising and the economy was going through.”
The impact of the economic downturn is still being felt by some. According to Ray, more than 104 thousand people in eastern North Carolina are living at or below poverty level. And 61,000 of those are children. With the holiday season approaching, she expects food demand to increase even more. For information on how to donate canned goods or non-perishable items to the organizations we’ve talked about today, visit our website, publicradioeast.org. I’m Jared Brumbaugh