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Local groups work to feed those in need
Mobile pantry provides for hundreds in Walthourville
web 0413 Food pantry bags
Volunteers organize 10-pound bags of food for needy families in the Walthourville area. The food was distributed by volunteers from the Walthourville Seniors, the Liberty County Youth Center and the Liberty County Blazers. The groups sponsored the event and served more than 300 families on Tuesday at Walthourville City Hall. - photo by Seraine Page

On Tuesday, Walthourville City Hall was filled with 13,000 pounds of food collected to help serve community members in need. 
The Walthourville Seniors, the Liberty County Youth Center and the Liberty County Blazers made the mobile food pantry possible by splitting the cost of the provisions, United Way of the Coastal Empire Executive Director Jennifer Darsey said. 
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better turnout,” she said. “To service that many people and have no food left, that is incredible.”
United Way, which was in charge of coordinating and organizing the event, worked with America’s Second Harvest Food Bank to arrange for a truck to drop off the food. Coordinators estimate the total food and delivery costs to be around $1,500.
“I feel we need to come together as a community before we can come together for anything else,” said Cedric Robertson, founder of the youth center and the Blazers. “This is something great; I love it.”
Two brown paper Kroger grocery bags were filled with various food items and distributed to low-income, elderly, disabled and unemployed residents who came to the giveaway and filled out an Emergency Food Assistance Program application. Darsey said 333 applications were taken.
Walthourville Mayor Daisy Pray worked alongside the groups by assembling hundreds of bags of food for those who stood in line with applications in hand on the city hall steps. About 20 Youth Challenge Academy cadets also participated by taking turns carrying groceries and loading recipients’ cars.
“It means a lot to serve the community. This is a mission: health and welfare,” the Walthourville Seniors president Brent Brathwaite said. “This is showing the cooperation and the community effort and the togetherness.”
Darsey said the first-time event drew more than 50 volunteers, despite the cold, rainy weather that persisted throughout the morning, and plans for another mobile food pantry are in the works.
“Finding sponsorship is key,” Darsey said. “I’ve had several other companies and individuals say they would love to sponsor another local food pantry. I can see this being something we do every few months or quarterly.”
America’s Second Harvest Food Bank serves 21 counties in Southeastern Georgia,  feeding the hungry by working through local organizations to distribute food to families and individuals in need.

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