AN UPDATE FROM THE PANTRY….finally
We all have our own stories about the impact of Hurricane Irene on our lives and the lives of friends and family. In terms of PCFLO, the impact was immense. Needless to say, in our five years of operation, we have never seen food insecurity on the scale that we observed in the months following August 27th. Nor could we ever have imagined the scope of the response to the situation from, not only the Pamlico County community, but from communities almost everywhere in eastern North Carolina. Starting on the Wednesday after the flooding through the early part of January, we distributed over 85,000 pounds of food, water, and assorted cleaning and personal hygiene products to households throughout the County.
We have been saddened by the suffering of so many, humbled by the faith, courage and resilience of many others, and up-lifted by the fact that our little grass-roots organization was able to move rather seamlessly into emergency mode and never neglected or failed to complete any portion of our regular program. The regular pantry distributions continued as did response to emergency referrals. The Mobil Food Pantry chugged along as usual, and we never missed a Food Lion outreach delivery to small community churches. The hurricane relief products were kept completely separate from the pantry donations, purchases, and government food.
We have much to be proud of. In March, we served 209 households through the referral pantry and 437 additional families through the first Wednesday food truck and the weekly Food Lion outreach. We receive very little public notice, probably because we are too busy to seek it. Our clients know and trust us to be fair and equitable and available when help is needed. The many folks who come to make food or cash donations know because they are witness to the work we were doing.
We have much to be thankful for, particularly the support of our sponsors, the dozens of churches and organizations across the state, and hundreds of individuals. Volunteers show up each and every month (rain or shine) for the first Wednesday food truck from Greenville. Many of those folks also bag and distribute food on seven our distribution days. Others pitch in on a moment’s notice to unload pick-ups and trailers full of canned goods. One dedicated couple travels to Greenville each and every month so that we are able to take advantage of free government food. About ten different people regularly collect bread, deli and meat from the Grantsboro Food Lion and then make deliveries to smaill, rural communities or bring products back to the pantry. Although we try to patronize the sales at local grocery stores, volunteers also travel 26 miles into New Bern and back or make the 130 mile-round-trip to Kinston or Greeville to shop at places where prices are best.
So many people support our mission through their embrace of our presence, their prayers, their donations of time and treasure. Whatever we need, whenever we ask, someone steps forward. We don’t thank our friends often enough, never because we are unappreciative, but mostly because we are so busy doing what we do. We are ever and always grateful for those friends and the opportunities and challenges we encounter.