Food bank running dry

Published 11:59 pm Monday, September 14, 2009

Although 3,000 pounds of food might sound like a lot, it’s only enough to last one week at the Christian Service Center in Andalusia. As a result, the Center constantly needs help with donations to keep its shelves stocked and to continue to meet the needs of Covington County’s neediest families.

“We appreciate anything we get,” said Charles Young, a volunteer at the Christian Service Center. “We’re not downplaying the amount of donations that we get from the churches and from the general public. But at the same time, we’re always in need of donations so we can continue to serve the county.”

Young explained that the center gets a monthly supply of food from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture center in Mobile. However, that supply is limited and often does not include a wide variety of items. Some of the items the USDA sells include canned goods, rice and dry beans.

“We don’t get this food for free,” he said. “We have to pay for it, but we can get it at a reduced cost. Unfortunately, many of the offices around Mobile get to pick their supply up first, and by the time it gets down to us, it’s pretty much picked over and we don’t always get the things we need.”

The Center is able to fill in the gaps thanks to donations from the public, volunteer Jo Isenberg explained.

“There are some things we can’t get from the USDA,” she said. “A lot of the items that we need, as far as donations, include cooking oil, salt, pepper, canned meats like tuna and salmon, canned fruit, Vienna sausage. I’d say, just about any thing that’s non-perishable — the staples.”

Young said the Center gave out 159,000 pounds of food in 2008, which was up from its total of 137,000 pounds of food in 2007.

In addition, he said the Center gives out about 1,500 pounds of food during each of its distribution days — Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“We give out 1,500 pounds of food twice a week,” he said. “So, even if someone makes a donation of 1,000 pounds of food, it only lasts for a day or so.

“That’s why we appreciate any donation, no matter how big or small. People in this county are wonderful; they know when their fellow man is in need, and they’re willing to do whatever they can to meet that need.”

Young said the Center is also a success thanks to the hard work of its volunteers, including Bill Law, whom Young said is currently recovering from an injury but had previously “worked every day” the food bank was open.

The Covington Baptist Association operates the Center, but Young said many other non-Baptist churches are also involved.

The Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the food bank is only open Mondays and Wednesdays.

The Christian Service Center is located on South Three Notch Street, and for more information on how to make donations, contact the Center at 222-3840.