Every weekday, those who are hungry can find hot meals at the Manna House in Hinesville.
Some days it is beef stew and rice; sometimes it is spaghetti and garlic bread.
At 4:30 p.m. on the dot, about 20 volunteers pile food onto the plates of men, women and children in need. But without the help of local-national chains like Kroger, the food pantry wouldn’t be able to feed more than 800 hungry people every month.
“Kroger has been a great help to us — you know the bread, the pastries, the deli meat. Rather than them being thrown away, they can be eaten,” said the Rev. Katrina Deason, executive director of Manna House Second Harvest Satellite.
On Nov. 14, Kroger kicked off its annual 2010 Can Hunger campaign, which allows customers to buy a $1 or $5 icon to benefit the Hinesville-area food bank. On average, the Manna House feeds 350-450 families and 800-1,200 individuals on a monthly basis, according to Deason.
“In the current economic climate, food banks across the country — including Manna House Second Harvest Satellite in Hinesville — are experiencing unprecedented requests for aid,” said Glenn Jenkins, the director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division.
The amount provides 3.9 and 19.5 meals, respectively, according to a Kroger news release. The fundraiser runs through Dec. 31.
Jenkins said Kroger has supported the food bank since 1996 — when the Hinesville Kroger first opened.
“Thanksgiving is our large giveaway — last Thanksgiving we fed 1,800 people giving out Thanksgiving baskets,” Deason said.
This year, the pantry will do its giveaway Monday through Wednesday next week, starting at 9 a.m. until the 100 Thanksgiving baskets are given out.
For the past 18 years, the Manna House has provided both perishable and non-perishable items to those in need. Perishable items are available to anyone who comes in, but to receive non-perishable items, clients must go through an application process to ensure the poverty level is met, Deason said.
Food Lion, Dollar Store, Walmart and Big Lots also contribute along with schools that hold canned food drive fundraisers to benefit the food pantry. Deason said about 4,000 items have been collected during the past two weeks from schools.
“It means everything … it is so rewarding to help people and when you have the community around you … even during the season of recession, they were still here to help the poor. They never stopped helping, and that has been a blessing,” she said.
Including the Hinesville Kroger, all 216 stores in Kroger’s Atlanta Division covering Georgia, eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama and South Carolina are participating in the 2010 Can Hunger Campaign.