“People start getting here at 7 a.m.,” United Way of the Coastal Empire’s Regional Director Jennifer Darsey said. “We don’t even start taking in the applications until 9:30 a.m. People are here because they don’t want to run out of food. People are really hungry and desperate for food.”
United Way’s Mass Mobile Food Pantry, held at Liberty County Performing Arts Center on Dec. 19, aimed to provide for 500 households in Liberty County ahead of the upcoming holiday, Darsey said.
The United Way takes applications up to 500 households, a massive effort to provide the essentials to those in need, most often the elderly or disabled citizens, Darsey continued.
“We have 40-pounds of chicken per household,” Darsey said. “Two half-gallons of milk, fresh apples, fresh grapes, and a full box of USDA approved food—the sustainable food items.”
The United Way sponsored food pantry was a mass mobile food drop, which automatically means that no applicant is required to verify income, but simply present with a food need, she said.
The pantry served the first 500 household applicants through a drive-through line, where volunteers will pack the cars with the supplies, two cars at a time. There is no limit to how many households can be in a car, Darsey continued. The applications are numbered up to 500, and cars are called in groups of 25, to prevent accidents in the line, she said.
“We have a lot of elderly and disabled that come through our lines,” Darsey said. “There are some really sweet people. I have a bunch of volunteers, some here, some inside. Most have volunteered with United Way before, but there are a few first-timers.” Volunteers included active-duty military, retired veterans, Liberty County School System representatives, WorkSource Coastal, and civic groups.
There are four of these mass mobile food pantries a year, Darsey said. Two are United Way sponsored, and two are sponsored by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, administered by United Way.