Written for the Miller County Liberal Newspaper by Dr. Debra Jones
How do you feed 500 families in one morning? Team work, that is how, and lots of preparation, sweat equity and community commitment. The process began two weeks ago when the food order was placed with Second Harvest for the Colquitt United Methodist Church Food Bank.
On Thursday, April 16, the semi-load of food was delivered. Trusties from the Miller County Jail under the supervision of jail administrator Dale Glover and Russell Nash unloaded the semi and moved the stock into place for packing with the loan of a fork lift from Stewart Auto Parts. They also bagged frozen meats and stored the sacks in the freezers until they ran out of room. That is when Kellie and Terry Pickle came to the rescue and provided freezer space until Saturday for the rest of the meat at their business, MSM Meats. The Rev. Scott Stanfill and church members Jason Houston and Vic Hill transported the pallets of chicken breast patties, pork loin, and fish fillets to MSM.
The next morning the prisoners broke down the big boxes of apples creating individual bags. At 1:00 p.m. a group of church members and community volunteers met to fill the grocery bags and finish the apple bagging. Those carrying out the packing were Rev. Scott Stanfill, Jason Houston, Kent Richardson, Josh Chancey, Dan Johnson, Joy Hayman, Joye Bailey, Jacki King, Jennifer Mock, Dottie Varnadoe, Debra Wolfe, and Debra Jones. At the end of four hours of intense labor, over 500 bags were ready for distribution, and the remainder of the apples had been bagged. All of this activity took place with participants maintaining social distancing and wearing gloves and masks. Their unique masks made and donated by Joanna Everson and Estelle Thompson were greatly appreciated.
While the packing was in progress, Mike and Sherri Newberry arrived with a trailer load of peanut butter and peanut butter bars. These products would have been give-aways at Peanut Proud held annually in Blakely. Unfortunately, this year’s event had to be cancelled due the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, so the nutritious items were donated to the food bank. It was enough to add to each bag a jar of peanut butter and a box of Jif PowerUps, chewy, creamy peanut butter and granola bars with six grams of protein. The local food bank organizers are very grateful for this generous contribution.
Then came Saturday morning, the day of distribution. When the first volunteers arrived at 6:00 a.m. vehicles were already lined up all the way back to Third Street. Jones and Varnadoe began registering recipients and signing up new people while the Colquitt Police Chief Kenny Kirkland and Officer Lonnie C. Wade assisted with the traffic flow.
Meanwhile, the preacher and Jason Houston met the prisoners and Officer Glover at MSM Meats to load up the frozen meats to be returned to the food bank. Once the meat arrived, all available hands completed the meat bagging process, and distribution was underway by 8:30. Rev. Stanfill, Houston, Richardson, and Chancey handled the heavy-lifting job of loading the grocery bags. Bailey, Mock, Hayman, King, Wolfe and Johnson, along with Danielle Grow and Terry Toole, placed other products in the vehicles including an institutional size can of pear halves, miscellaneous bread products, apples, oranges, cheese, frozen food, and boxes of Puffs. It was a big haul! Jeff Small made deliveries to shut-ins with no transportation, a service he has been performing for years.
The last car rolled through the line about 11:30, so in just three hours over 500 families took home a set of groceries that will supplement their food supply for the next few weeks. As you can see from this article, the Food Bank doesn’t “just happen.” It is a tremendous amount of work, and it could never be possible without dedicated volunteers, community-minded businesses and individuals and law enforcement officers and inmates. A great big thank you goes out to all who played a part in this month’s successful operation.
Food Bank is the third Saturday of the month with distribution usually occurring from 8:00-9:30 a.m. Although a project of Colquitt United Methodist Church Outreach, it is not funded by the church. In the past the proceeds from the Agape Thrift Store, also a mission of the church, have covered the cost.