An estimated 2,700 people began lining up at 5 a.m. Thursday for a United Way of the Coastal Empire, Liberty mass mobile food pantry at the Walthourville fire station.
The distribution of food did not begin until after 11. The United Way works with America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia to distribute food to the hungry several times each year.
Thursday, UW director Jennifer Darsey said 18,005 pounds of food was being distributed to 450 households in less than two hours.
“It seems to be one of the largest turnouts we’ve had so far,” said Restoration Church Pastor Alan Darsey, an organizer and Jennifer Darsey’s husband. “It’s a good thing to be here today, with so much need out there.”
Pastor Darsey said many of the recipients are disabled individuals and the elderly.
America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia serves as the food source. Local and national grocery stores, other businesses and individuals donate food to Second Harvest. The food bank then inspects, sorts and stocks donated items. Donations are supplemented with additional food buys. The regional food bank collaborates with more than 300 nonprofit agencies in 21 counties, according to helpendhunger.org.
According to statistics on the food bank’s website, 64 percent of children in Coastal Georgia go hungry every day. Forty-three percent of Second Harvest’s clients have to choose between food and utilities, and 34 percent of the people served choose between food and housing.
“This (need) continues to grow each time we have a give-away,” Alan Darsey said. “People line up faster, food goes away sooner.”
He said what is encouraging is that the pantry’s volunteer base appears to be growing “exponentially” with the number of residents seeking assistance.
Jennifer Darsey said volunteers from Restoration Church, Long County High School, United Way board, the After Math Social Club, the Classy Ladies Social Club, Century Link employees, Walthourville seniors and Team Ellen from the district attorney’s office/child support services came together to serve their community.
For more information, call Jennifer Darsey at 368-4282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.